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TO YOUR TENTS, O ISRAEL!

CULTURE AND HISTORY OF


THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
EDITED BY

B. HALPERN, M.H.E. WEIPPERT


TH. PJ. VAN DEN HOUT, I. WINTER
VOLUME 12

TO YOUR TENTS, O ISRAEL!


The Terminology, Function, Form, and Symbolism of Tents
in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East

BY

MICHAEL M. HOMAN

BRILL
LEIDEN BOSTON KOLN
2002

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Homan, Michael M.
To your tents, O Israel! : the terminology, function, form, and symbolism of tents in the
Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East / by Michael M. Homan.
p. cm.Culture and history of the ancient Near East; v. 12)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9004126066
1.Tents in the Bible. 2. Bible. O.T.Criticism,, interpretation, etc. 3. TentsMiddle
East. 4. Middle EastAntiquities. 5. tabernacle. I. Title. II. Series.
BS1199.T42H662002
221.9'5dc21
20020254144

Die Deutsche Bibliothek CIP-Einheitsaufhahme


Homan, Michael M. :
To your tents, O Israel! : the terminology, function, form and symbolism of tents in
the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East / by Michael M. Homan. - Leiden ;
Boston ; Koln : Brill, 2002
(Culture and history of the ancient Near East; Vol. 12)
ISBN 90-04-12606-6

ISSN 1566-2055
ISBN 90 04 126066
Copyright 2002 by Komnklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written
permission from the publisher.
Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted
by Koninklijke Brill provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly
to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive,
Suite 910, Danvers MA 01923, USA.
Fees are subject to change.
PRINTED IN THE NETHERLANDS

DEDICATION
This book is dedicated to my family, whom I immensely
appreciate. My feelings echo the alewife Siduri's advice to the
forlorn Gilgamesh:
As for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full. Dance and be merry by
day and night, by night and day make a feast of rejoicing, day
and night dance and play. Let your garments be white, your head
washed, bathe in water. Cherish the little child that holds your hand.
Let your spouse delight in your embrace. For this too is the lot of
mankind.
(Gilgamesh, OB, X:III:6-14)

I wish to thank my father William for his work ethic, my mother


Julie for her spontaneity, my sister Chris and brother Jim for their
friendship, my daughter Kalypso for her imagination, my son
Gilgamesh for his promise of future, and my wife Therese
Fitzpatrick for her love, support, enthusiasm, and all these years of
imposed frugality. I love you all very much.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Abbreviations

xii

List of Figures

xvi

List of Plates

xviii

Acknowledgments

xxv

Chapter One. INTRODUCTION

Reasons for Their Neglect


Principle Aims of the Current Study

2
5

Chapter Two. TENT TERMINOLOGY:


THE MANY WORDS FOR TENTS
AND THEIR INTERCHANGEABILITY

1. Tent C?rm)
2. Booth (noo)
3. Tabernacle (ptf)
Ten Additional Tent-related Designations (mp,
pi, nan, TiB0, PUTT, rru, mo, rim, mo, *?2s)
Tent Accessories
Tent Verbs
Ambiguity in Hebrew Terms for Dwellings
Portable Terminology for Permanent Dwellingsbrm
for mi
Portable Terminology for Permanent DwellingsptiQ
for rra and 'wn
Permanent Domiciliary Terminology for Portable
Dwellings
Sociohistorical Reasons for Fluidity in Terminology . .
A Few Further Remarks on the Fluidity in
Terms for Dwellings

7
9
11
13
15
15
16
16
22

23
24
26

viii

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter Three. TENT HOMES: THE TEXTUAL CASE FOR


ANCIENT ISRAEL'S TENT-DWELLING HERITAGE
Ancient Israel's Tent-Dwelling Heritage:
The Evidence from Genesis
Ancient Israel's Tent-Dwelling Heritage:
The Period of Wanderings
Yahweh's Tent-Dwelling Heritage
Positively Connoted Tents and Their
Inhabitants in the Hebrew Bible
Arabian Tents of the Past Remembered Fondly:
A Case-Study From Modern Jordan
Persian Tent-Heritage Maintained
Tent-Dwellers of the Bronze Age:
The Amurru, Habiru, Shasu, and Israelites
Some Concluding Remarks on Ancient Israelite
Tent Homes
Chapter Four. THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS
AND PASTORAL NOMADS
Archaeological Evidence For and Against Ancient
Israel's Tent-Dwelling Heritage
Houses from Tent Prototypes:
The Evolution of Architecture
Missing Tents in the Material Record:
The Case from Qumran
Tent Homes and Nomadism in the Early Iron Age:
New Evidence from the Jabal Hamrat Fidan
Project Cemetery and Survey
Some Concluding Remarks on the Archaeology of
Tents

29
29
32
34
35
38
40
40
45
47
47
53
54
55
59

Chapter Five. MILITARY TENTS: AN ANCIENT


TRADITION

61

Egyptian Military Tents


Assyrian Military Tents
Canaanite Military Tents
Military Tents from Greece, Persia, and Rome

63
68
69
70

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Israelites' Enemies and Their Tents in the


Hebrew Bible
King David's Military Tent
Two Tents, Two Heroines, and Two Dead Generals:
The Cases of Jael and Judith
Israelite and Opposing Militaries Campaigning
in Tents, and Issues of Sanitation
Israelite and Syrian Militaries Campaigning in Booths . .
Some Concluding Remarks on Military Tents
in the Hebrew Bible
Chapter Six. LOVE TENTS: SEX AND MARRIAGE
UNDER TENT SHELTERS
Tents in Israelite Marriage Ceremonies
Marriage-Tents: The Extra-biblical Evidence
Four Lascivious Stories with a Tent Setting:
Ham, Jael, Judith, and Pughat
The Many Lusts of the Tent-Girl Sisters in Ezekiel 23 ..
The Love Tabernacle: Taboo Sex in Yahweh's T e n t . . .
David's Concubines, A Rooftop Tent, and
Absalom's Claim on the Throne
Chapter Seven. TABERNACLE PARALLELS: NEAR
EASTERN PORTABLE SHRINES ACROSS THE AGES ...
History of Research
Bedouin and Pre-Islamic Shrines:
The 'utfah, mahmal, and the qubba
The Kacba and the Tabernacle
Tents in Ugaritic and Hittite Mythology and
the Tabernacle
Portable Shrines of Phoenicia and Carthage:
The Literary Evidence
Portable Shrines in Phoenicia, Syria, and Judea:
Pictorial Evidence
Egyptian Funeral Tents
The Tent of Min
Other Egyptian Tent Shrines

IX

74
76
76
77
77
78
79
79
80
82
83
84
85
89
89
90
93
94
99
102
105
109
110

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Tent Homes of the Egyptian Gods


Rameses's Military Camp and the Tabernacle
Mesopotamian Tent Shrines and 10 Big Qersu
from Mari
A Midianite Tent Shrine in the Negev
Semitic Names, Sacred Tents,
and a New Etymology for Aaron
Making Tents in the Temple?
Further Evidence for Tent Shrines
Tent-like Temples: Jerusalem, Tayinat, and Arad
Chapter Eight. THE TABERNACLE:
HISTORICITY, FORM, AND FATE
The Actuality of the Tabernacle
P's Motivation and the Model for the Tabernacle:
A Synthesis
The Tabernacle's Form
A. Boards
B. Two Corner Pieces and the Arrangement of
the Boards
C. Bars
D. Curtains of Fine Linen
E. Curtain of Goat-Hair
F. Skins
G. Veil/Canopy
H. Screen/Cover
Comprehensive Solutions to the Tabernacle Puzzle:
Some Variations on a Standard Model
Sloped-Roof Reconstruction with Ridgepole
Curtains Inside Frame
Rationale for the 30 X 10 Cubit Tabernacle
Another Tenable Tent: Friedman's Tabernacle
Could the Tabernacle Have Stood in the Temple?
A New Reconstruction of the Tabernacle
Will the Real Tabernacle Please Stand Up: The Quest
for an Unobtainable Solution and Other Conclusions . .

Ill
Ill
116
118
120
123
123
129
129
133
137
137
147
148
151
153
155
156
158
159
165
166
166
167
173
177
184

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter Nine. TO YOUR TENTS, O ISRAEL!


THE LEGACY OF A TENT HERITAGE IN AN
ARCHAIC PROCLAMATION OF DISBANDMENT
To Your Tents, O Israel!
Some Possible Interpretations
To Your Tents, O Israel, O Ugarit, and O Egypt!
The Meeting is Adjourned
Conclusion

X1

187
187
190
192

BIBLIOGRAPHY

193

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

215

SUBJECT INDEX

225

PLATES

231

ABBREVIATIONS
1 Chr
1 Kgs
1 Sam
1 Chr
2 Chr
2 Kgs
2 Sam
AASOR
AB
ABD
AJSL
ANEP
ANET
AOAT
ARE
ARM
ASAE
ASORDS
AV
BA
BAR
BASOR
BCE
Bib
BN
CahRb
CAD
CAT

1 Chronicles
1 Kings
1 Samuel
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
2 Kings
2 Samuel
Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research
Anchor Bible
Anchor Bible Dictionary, D. N. Freedman, ed.
American Journal of Semitic Languages and
Literature
Ancient Near East in Pictures, J. B. Pritchard, ed.
Ancient Near Eastern Texts, J. B. Pritchard, ed.
Alter Orient und Altes Testament
Ancient Records of Egypt, J. H. Breasted, ed.
Archives royales de Mari
Annales du Service des antiquites de I'Egypte
American Schools of Oriental Research Dissertation Series
Authorized Version
Biblical Archaeologist
Biblical Archaeology Review
Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental
Research
Before the Common Era
Biblica
Biblische Notizen
Cahiers de la Revue biblique
The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of
the University of Chicago
The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts (Revised and
Enlarged KTU}

ABBREVIATIONS

CBQ
CE
CIH
CM HE
CTA
Dan
Deut
DJD
DMOA
EANE
EB
Exod
Ezek
fig(s).
Gen
HB
HSM
HTR
HUCA
Ibid.
IBOT
ICC
IDB
IEJ
Isa
JANES
JAOS
JARCE
JBL
JCS
JEA
Jer

Xlll

Catholic Biblical Quarterly


Common Era
Corpus inscriptionum semiticarum, pars IV,
inscriptiones himyariticas et sabaeas continens.
Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, Frank M.
Cross, Jr.
Corpus des tablettes en cuneiformes
alphabetiques, A. Herdner
Daniel
Deuteronomy
Discoveries in the Judaean Desert
Documenta et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the
Near East, E. Meyers, ed.
Early Bronze
Exodus
Ezekiel
figure(s)
Genesis
Hebrew Bible
Harvard Semitic Monographs
Harvard Theological Review
Hebrew Union College Annual
ibidem, in the same place
Istanbul Arkeoloji Miizelerinde Bulunan Bogakoy
Tabletleri
International Critical Commentary
Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, G. A.
Buttrick, ed.
Israel Exploration Journal
Isaiah
Journal of the Ancient Near East Society
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt
Journal of Biblical Literature
Journal of Cuneiform Studies
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Jeremiah

XIV

JESHO
Jn
JNES
Josh
JPS
JQR
JSOT
JSOT SS
JTS
Judg
KAH
KJV
KTU
KUB
LB
Lev
Lk
LXX
MB
MDIK
MK
Mt
MT
MVAG
N
n(n).
NEAEHL
NK
NRSV
Num
OBO
OK
OLP
Or

ABBREVIATIONS

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the


Orient
John
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Joshua
Jewish Publication Society
Jewish Quarterly Review
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series
Journal of Theological Studies
Judges
Keilschrifttexte aus Assur historischen Inhalts
King James Version
Keilalphabetische Texte aus Ugarit, vol. 1. M.
Dietrich, O. Loretz, and J Sanmartin, eds.
Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazkoi
Late Bronze
Leviticus
Luke
Septuagint
Middle Bronze
Mitteilungen des deutschen
archaologischen
Instituts, Kairo
Middle Kingdom
Matthew
Masoretic Text
Mitteilungen der vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft
Number
note(s)
The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, E. Stern, ed.
New Kingdom
New Revised Standard Version
Numbers
Orbis biblicus et orientalis
Old Kingdom
Orientalia lovaniensia periodica
Orientalia

ABBREVIATIONS

OTL
p(p).
PE
PEF
PEQ
pl(s).
PRU
Ps(s)
PWCJS
RB
RHA
RHR
RSV
SAM
SJOT
SSEA
TDOT
UF
Urk
VT
VTSup
WFD
ZA
ZAS
ZAW
ZDMG
ZDPV
Zee

XV

Old Testament Library


page(s)
Praeparatio evangelica, Eusebius
Palestine Exploration Fund
Palestine Exploration Quarterly
plate(s)
Le Palais Royal d'Ugarit, C. F. Schaeffer and J.
Nougayrol, eds.
Psalm(s)
Proceedings of the . . . World Congress of Jewish
Studies
Revue biblique
Revue hittite et asiatique
Revue de I'histoire ecclesiastique
Revised Standard Version
Sheffield Archaeological Monographs
Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament
Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities
Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament
Ugarit-Forschungen
Urkunden des dgyptischen Altertums
Vetus Testamentum
Vetus Testamentum Supplements
Wadi Fidan
Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie
Zeitschrift
fur
Agyptische
Sprache
und
A Itertumskunde
Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Zeitschrift
der deutschen
morgenlandischen
Gesellschaft
Zeitschrift des deutschen Paldstina-Vereins
Zechariah

LIST OF FIGURES
Fig. 1:
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.

2:
3:
4:
5:

Fig. 6:
Fig. 7:
Fig. 8:
Fig. 9:
Fig. 10:
Fig. 11:
Fig. 12:
Fig. 13:
Fig. 14:
Fig. 15:
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.

16:
17:
18:
19:
20:
21:
22:
23:

Fig. 24:
Fig. 25:
Fig. 26:

Conceived Genealogies of Israel and


Her Neighbors
Tribal Genealogy and Encampment
Common Shape of Egyptian Tents at Qedesh . .
Tutankamon's Tent Frame (drawing)
Comparison of Rameses II's Military Tent
With the Tabernacle
Three-, Two-, and One-Room Floor
Plans of Solomon's Temple
Acacia Trunk Diameter for Tabernacle Boards .
Kennedy's Tabernacle Frame with its Bases ...
The Arrangement of Kennedy's
Tabernacle Frames
Allotment of Weight to Four Carts
Tabernacle's Thin Boards and "Arms"
Possible Arrangement for the Five Bars
of the Tabernacle
Five Bars of the Tabernacle with
Long Bar on Top
Possible Arrangement of the Tabernacle's Bars .
Possible Arrangement of Tabernacle
Bars (Middle Bar Inside)
The Arrangement of the Curtains of Fine Linen .
Arrangement of Curtains of Goat-Hair
Alternative Methods to Double the 6th Curtain ...
Standard Interpretation of the naie
Friedman's nois as a Canopy
Possible Ground Plan of Tabernacle and Court .
Tabernacle's Screen
The Tabernacle's 20 Side Boards
Viewed From Above
Inner and Outer Curtains
Tabernacle: Model 1
Model 1 in 3 Dimensions

31
33
67
108
112
125
140
141
142
144
146
149
149
150
151
152
154
154
157
157
158
159
160
161
162
162

LIST OF FIGURES

Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.

27:
28:
29:
30:
31:

Fig. 32:
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.
Fig.

33:
34:
35:
36:

Fig. 37:
Fig. 38:
Fig. 39:
Fig. 40:
Fig. 41:

Tabernacle: Model 2
Tabernacle: Model 3
Friedman's Tabernacle
Friedman's Curtains
The 11th Curtain Halved Vertically
or Horizontally
Friedman's Cherubim and the Tabernacle
in the Temple
The Form of a ahp
Proposed Corner Frames of the Tabernacle ...
Dimensions of the Tabernacle
Fold of the Sixth Curtain and the
Dimensions of the Curtains
Curtain of Linen on Top of the
Goat-Hair Curtain
Proposed Tabernacle Boards with Curtains ...
Proposed Folding of the Sixth Curtain
Lay of Two Curtains with Sixth Curtain
Folded at 0.7 Cubits
Curtains on Boards with Sixth Curtain
of Goat-Hair Folded at 0.7 cubits

XV11

163
164
168
169
171
175
178
179
180
181
182
182
183
183
184

LIST OF PLATES
Plate la:
Plate Ib:

Succoth Booth (Homan, 2001).


Permanent Buildings with Tent Roof (Syria) (Homan,
1999).
Plate 2a: Combination of Tent and House (Syria) (Homan,
1999).
Plate 2b: Large Permanent Building with Tent Roof (Syria)
(Homan, 1999).
Plate 3a: Bedouin Camp Constructed of Tents, Sheet Metal, and
Plastic (Wadi Kelt, Israel) (Homan, 2001).
Plate 3b: Bedouin Tent (Wadi Rum, Jordan) (Homan, 1999).
Plate 4a: Tents Erected for Haj Pilgrims (Emil Esin, Mecca the
Blessed, Medinah the Radiant [London: Elek, 1963]:
fig. 99).
Plate 4b: Tent-Mosque in Nazareth (Homan, 2001).
Plate 5:
Aerial Photograph Showing the Jabal Hamrat Fidan
(Outlined in White) with the Wadi Fidan Survey Area
(Outlined in Black) (JHF Project, UCSD).
Plate 6:
Standard Grave Form of WFD 40 (JHF Project,
UCSD).
Plate 7:
Grave 92 Burial and Associated Artifacts (JHF Project,
UCSD).
Plate 8:
Iron Age Sites Located in the WFD 1998 Survey (JHF
Project, UCSD).
Plate 9:
Three Views of WFD 48 (Large Campsite with IA
Diagnostic Pottery) (JHF Project, UCSD).
Plate 10: Rameses IPs Military Camp at Qedesh (Abu Simbel)
(Yigael Yadin, The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands
[New York: McGraw Hill, 1963]: 1:236-37).
Plate 1 la: Ornate Tent-pole in Egyptian Tent (Walter Wreszinski,
Atlas zur altdgyptischen Kulturgeschichte [Leipzig:
Hinrichs, 1923]: p. 386).
Plate 1 Ib: Relief of Four Sons of Rameses II Fighting at Zapur
(Ahmed Youssef, C. LeBlanc, and M. Maher, Le

LIST OF PLATES

Plate 12:
Plate
Plate
Plate
Plate
Plate

13:
14:
15:
16:
17:

Plate 18:
Plate 19a:

Plate 19b:
Plate 20:
Plate 2la:

Plate 21b:

Plate 22:

Plate 23:
Plate 24a:

Plate 24b:
Plate 25a:
Plate 25b:

XIX

Ramesseum [Cairo: Centre d'Etude et du Documentation sur 1'ancienne Egypte, 1977]: pi. 22).
Relief of Sennacherib's Fortified Camp (British
Museum).
Relief of Sennacherib's Camp (British Museum).
Sennacherib's Royal Tent (British Museum).
Sargon II's Fortified Camp (British Museum).
Ashurbanipal's Camp (British Museum).
Forked-frame Tent in Camp of Ashurbanipal
(Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches
Museum).
Burning Arab Tents from Palace of Ashurbanipal
(British Museum).
The Roman Camp According to Polybius (John
Hackett, Warfare in the Ancient World [London:
Sidgwick and Jackson, 1989]: p. 157).
Roman Army Tent-camp Remains at Masada (Homan,
2001).
Elamite Heads Stored in Assyrian Tent (British
Museum).
markab (Alois Musil, The Manners and Customs of the
Rwala Bedouins [New York: American Geographical
Society, 1928]: p. 573).
'utfah (Brenda Z. Seligman, "Sacred Litters Among
the Semites," Sudan Notes and Records 1:4 [1918]:
fig. 2).
mahmal in Procession (Brenda Z. Seligman, "Sacred
Litters Among the Semites," Sudan Notes and
Records 1:4 [1918]: fig. 2).
mahmal Returns to Cairo from Mecca (Pen and wash
drawing by F. George; Victoria and Albert Museum).
mahmal Drawing (Edward W. Lane, The Manners and
Customs of the Modern Egyptians II [London: Charles
Knight, 1842]: p. 203).
mahmal Photograph (Tadmor, Syria) (Homan, 1999).
qubba Photograph (Palmyre) (Homan, 1999).
First Possible qubba (Franz Cumont, "La double
Fortune des Semites et les processions a dos de
chameau," Etudes Syriennes [Paris, 1917]: fig. 93).

XX

LIST OF PLATES

Plate 26a: Second Possible qubba (Franz Cumont, "La double


Fortune des Semites et les processions a dos de
chameau," Etudes Syriennes [Paris, 1917]: fig. 94).
Plate 26b: Third Possible qubba (Photo: Ingrid Striiben in
Harvey Weiss, Ebla to Damascus [Washington, D.C.:
Smithsonian, 1985]: fig. 220).
Plate 27: Kacba (Emel Esin, Mecca the Blessed, Medinah the
Radiant [London: Elek, 1963]: fig. 106).
Plate 28: Wheeled Shrine on Sidonian Coins (1st and 2nd Century
C.E.) (George F. Hill, Catalogue of the Greek Coins of
Phoenicia [Bologna: Arnold Forni, 1965]: pis. 12324).
Plate 29a: Shrine with Carrying Bars on Tyrian Coin (251-253
C.E.) (Martin J. Price and Bluma T. Trell, Coins and
Their Cities [London: V.C. Vecchi and Sons, 1977]:
fig- 40).
Plate 29b: Statue of Demeter Carried by Portable Shrine on
Megarian Coin (193-221 C.E.) (Martin J. Price and
Bluma T. Trell, Coins and Their Cities [London: V.C.
Vecchi and Sons, 1977]: fig. 41).
Plate 29c: Statue of Hercules Carried by Portable Shrine on Coin
from Philadelphia (c. 170 C.E.) (Warwick Wroth,
Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Galatia,
Cappadocia, and Syria [Bologna: A. Forni, 1889]: pi.
38:9).
Plate 30: Wheeled Torah Ark from Capernaum (Homan, 2001).
Plate 31: Ark in Tented-wagon (Dura Europas Synagogue)
(Carl H. Kraeling, The Synagogue [Hoboken: KTAV,
1979]: p. LVI).
Plate 32a: Votive Wagon from Tepe Gawra with Drawing
(Ephraim A. Speiser, "Prelinary Excavations at Tepe
Gawra," AASOR 9 [1927-1928]: figs. 97 and 102).
Plate 32b: The Frame of the Egyptian Tent of Purification (Selim
Hassan, Excavations at Giza IV [Cairo: Government
Press, 1943]: fig. 38).
Plate 33: Anubis Working in a Red Tent of Purification
(National Geographic).

LIST OF PLATES

Plate 34:

Plate 35:

Plate 36:

Plate 37a:
Plate 37b:
Plate 38:

Plate 39a:

Plate 39b:

Plate 40a:
Plate 40b:
Plate 4la:
Plate 41b:

XXI

Leather Tent of Queen Isi Em Kheb (H. Villiers Stuart,


The Funeral Tent of an Egyptian Queen [London:
John Murray, 1882]: pi. 14).
Leather Egyptian Funeral Tent, Dyed Red, Yellow, and
Green (Robert J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient
Technology V [Leiden: Brill, 1966]: fig. 11).
Tutankhamon's Pall inside Outer Catafalque (Howard
Carter, The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen II [New York:
Doran, 1927]: pi. 4).
Tent Frame and Pall in Tomb of Tutankhamon
(Howard Carter, The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen II [New
York: Doran, 1927]: pi. 56).
Tutankhamon's Pall Being Rolled and Removed
(Howard Carter, The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen II [New
York: Doran, 1927]: pi. 55a).
Tutankhamon's Tent Frame inside Exterior Catafalque (Alexandre Piankoff, The Shrines of Tut-AnkhAmon [New York: Pantheon, 1955]: fig. 54).
Drawing of Catafalques Showing Position of Tent
Frames (Ian Bott in Nicholas Reeves, The Complete
Tutankhamun [London: Thames and Hudson, 1990):
p. 82).
Plan on Papyrus of Rameses IV s Tomb Showing
Possible Tent and Floor Catafalques (Howard Carter
and Alan H. Gardiner, "The Tomb of Ramesses IV
and the Turin Plan of a Royal Tomb," JEA 4 [1917]:
pi. 29).
Holy Barque of Amon with Catafalque (Emma
Brunner-Traut, Die altdgyptischen Scherbenbilder
[Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1956]: pi. 9).
Tutankhamon's Catafalque Drawn by Court Officials
(Alexandre Piankoff, The Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon
[New York: Pantheon, 1955]: fig. 6).
Wooden Planks with Gold Overlay on Shrine of Tiye
(Theodore M. Davis, The Tomb of Queen Tiyi
[London: Constable, 1910]: pi. 31).
Wooden Planks as Found in Tomb of Tiye (Theodore
M. Davis, The Tomb of Queen Tiyi [London:
Constable, 1910]: pi. 27).

xxii

LIST OF PLATES

Plate 42:

Plate 43:

Plate 44:
Plate 45:
Plate 46:

Plate 47:

Plate 48:
Plate 49:

Plate 50a:
Plate 50b:
Plate 5 la:
Plate 51b:
Plate 52:

Plate
Plate
Plate
Plate

53:
54a:
54b:
55a:

Tent of Min Being Constructed: Central Pole and Four


Framing Poles (Gustave Jequier, Le monument
funeraire de Pepi II [Cairo: IIFAO, 1938]: pi. 12).
Two Versions of Min's Tent (Irmtraut Munro, Das
Zelt-Heiligtum
des Min
[Munich: Deutscher
Kuntstverlag, 1983]: figs. 15-16).
Amarna Princesses in a Red Tent (c. 1345-1340
B.C.E.) (Ashmolean Museum).
Mehu's Tent Frame over Bed (Waley-el-dine Sameh,
Daily Life in Ancient Egypt [New York: McGraw-Hill,
1964]: p. 121).
Reproduction of Tent Frame, Bed, Headrest, Armchair,
and Curtain Box of Queen Hetepheres I (IVth
Dynasty) (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
Rameses IFs Military Camp at Qedesh (Luxor) (James
H. Breasted, The Battle of Kadesh [Chicago:
University of Chicago, 1903]: pi. 4).
Rameses IPs Military Camp at Qedesh (Ramesseum)
(James H. Breasted, The Battle of Kadesh [Chicago:
University of Chicago, 1903]: pi. 1).
Close-up of Rameses II's Military Tent at Qedesh
(Abu Simbel) (Markaz Tasjil al-Athar al-Misriyah,
Grand Temple d'Abou Simbel [Cairo, 1971]: pi. 6).
Sun God in Tent (British Museum).
Canopy at Tel Dan's Gate (Reconstructed) (Homan,
2001).
Midianite Tent Shrine at Timna with massebot against
Far Wall and Niche to Right (Homan, 2001).
Midianite Tent Pole-hole (Homan, 2001).
Temple (above) and Palace (below) at Tayinat (Calvin
W. McEwan, "The Syrian Expedition of the Oriental
Institute of the University of Chicago," AJA 41
[1937]: fig. 4).
Temple at Ain Dara (Homan, 1999).
Temple at Arad (Homan, 2001).
Holy of Holies at Arad (Homan, 2001).
Egyptian Table for Dead Set with 12 Loaves of Bread
(Slab Stela of Meretites, IVth Dynasty, reign of Khufu
[2585-2560 B.C.E.]) (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).

LIST OF PLATES

xxiii

Plate 55b: Egyptian Model of Granary and Butchery (Joyce


Milton, Sunrise of Power [Boston: Boston Publishing,
1986]: pi. 55b).
Plate 56a: Bronze Tenons Used to Join Boards on Tiye's
Catafalque (Theodore M. Davis, The Tomb of Queen
Tiyi [London: Constable, 1910]: pi. 25).
Plate 56b: Examples of "Arms" in the Construction of the Tent
Frame of Hetepheres (George A. Reisner, A History of
the Giza Necropolis II [Cambridge: Harvard
University, 1955]: pi. 9).
Plate 57a: Painting of New Kingdom Barge (Colin Thubron, The
Ancient Mariners [Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life,
1981]: pp. 6-7).
Plate 57b: Model of Egyptian Boat from Tomb of Tutankhamen
(Photo: Kodansha Ltd. in Nicholas Reeves, The
Complete Tutankhamun [London: Thames and
Hudson, 1990]: p. 144).
Plate 58a: Cheep's Barge (Colin Thubron, The Ancient Mariners
[Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life, 1981]: p. 16).
Plate 58b: Phoenician Ship (British Museum).
Plate 59: Metal Sockets and Joined Corner Pieces of
Hetepheres' Tent Frame (George A. Reisner, A
History of the Giza Necropolis II [Cambridge: Harvard
University, 1955]: pi. 10).
Plate 60: Model of Egyptian Weaving Shop (c. 2000 B.C.E.)
from the Tomb of Meket-Re (The Metropolitan
Museum of Art).
Plate 61: Engraving of the Tabernacle's Screen and Five Pillars
(19th century) (Joan Comay, The Temple of Jerusalem
[New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975]: p.
17).
Plate 62: Kennedy's Reconstruction of the Tabernacle
(Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "Tabernacle," Hasting's
Dictionary of the Bible [1902]: p. 661).
Plate 63a: Sloped-roof Tabernacle with Ridgepole (James
Fergusson, The Holy Sepulchre and the Temple at
Jerusalem [London: John Murray, 1865]: p. 75).

xxiv

LIST OF PLATES

Plate 63b: Tabernacle with Curtains inside Boards (W. G.


Moorehead, The Tabernacle [Grand Rapids: Kregel,
1957]: p. 31).
Plate 64: Winged Deities from Arslan Tash Protecting Sun God
(Photo: Ingrid Striiben in Harvey Weiss, Ebla to
Damascus [Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1985]:
fig. 220).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This book owes much to the inspirations and efforts of my two
mentors: William H. C. Propp and Thomas E. Levy. Concerning
the former, I wish to acknowledge his time, encouragement, and
unsurpassed erudition not only in the preparation of this work,
but for teaching me the Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern
historical and linguistic contexts. I thank the latter for his
supervision in all areas pertaining to archaeology and
anthropology, his camaraderie in the field, and his encouragement
at my attempts to narrow the widening gap between text and
artifact.
Richard Elliott Friedman assisted me with Tabernacle sections
and methodology; more important, he best taught me how to
teach. David Noel Freedman deserves accolades for teaching me
biblical Hebrew and establishing a record of publications. David
M. Goodblatt ensured that my knowledge of ancient Israel
transcended the Babylonian exile. Further thanks are owed to
Jeffrey C. Geoghegan for optimism and fraternity in the face of
Herculean tasks; he has become a cherished friend.
I wish to thank my colleagues at Xavier University of
Louisiana: Mary Ann Stachow, Gerald Boodoo, Jerry Farmer,
Phillip Linden, Mark Gstohl, and Keith Lee. I am forever indebted
to my friend and mentor Richard Freund who opened for me the
doors of academia. Much needed and appreciated financial
assistance came from the Dita Gumpel Graduate Student
Fellowship, the Wexler Family Trust Fellowship in Honor of David
Noel Freedman, the Samuel H. Kress Fellowship at the Albright
Institute of Archaeological Research, and United States
Information Agency fellowships at the American Center of
Oriental Research in Amman and at the Albright Institute.
Lastly, I wish to express my gratitude to Baruch Halpern who
edited the book, and to Patricia Radder who helped produce the
final volume.

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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of tents in the
Hebrew Bible. To begin with, they provide the dominant
habitation throughout the Torah, sheltering such famous
personages as Noah, Shem, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Isaac, Rebekah,
Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Moses, Aaron, and Joshua.1 Even Yahweh
inhabits a tent from Sinai until the construction of Solomon's
Temple; accordingly, a tent is pictured as ancient Israel's cultic
center during its formative period.2 Tents are intimately
connected to the judgeships of Deborah and Samuel, as well as the
monarchy under David and his successors.3 Later Israelite and
Judahite prophets romanticize and idealize their tent heritage,
even praising nomadic contemporaries who forgo urban trappings
in favor of the perceived superior lodging provided by tents.4 The
tent in the Hebrew Bible serves as a metaphor for God, life, the
universe, Israel, and Judah.5 Moreover, the use of tents transcends
the domestic and religious spheres. Tents are closely associated
with the military, often used by ancient Israel and her enemies
during campaigns and sieges.6 They are also employed in
weddings, apparently both in the ceremony and as a consummation chamber.7 Tents surpass in importance all other structures
in Israelite society.
1

On the use of tent homes by these and other biblical figures, see pp. 29-34.
Yahweh's terrestrial and celestial Tabernacles are examined below, p. 34.
The long-range impact of the sacred tent in Judaism can be seen in the New
Testament, where "the Word became flesh and tented (OKr|Vti)Oev) among us"
(Jn 1:14). Also, Peter seeks to construct tents to shelter Moses, Elijah and Jesus
during the Transfiguration (Mt 17:4; Mk 9:5; Lk 9:33).
3
For details, see pp. 35; 76-77; 82-83; 85-87.
4
E.g., the Rechabites and Kenites. See below, pp. 35-38.
5
On these and other metaphorical uses of "tent," see pp. 7-9.
6
Military tents are explored below in chapter 5 (pp. 61-78).
7
See chapter 6 (pp. 79-87) for the use of tents in marital and other sexual
settings.
2

CHAPTER ONE

Reasons for Their Neglect


Despite the enormous significance of tents in the Hebrew Bible,
modern scholarship has paid surprisingly little attention to the
topic. This was not the case previously, at least not for one tent in
particular. The riddle of the Tabernacle's form has lured many of
humanity's sharpest minds, including Josephus, Philo, Origen,
Jerome, Augustine, Bede, Maimonides, Rashi, and even Sir Isaac
Newton.8 Yet the advent of Higher Criticism meant hard times for
the Tabernacle. Karl Grafs theory of biblical authorship,
masterfully and influentially argued by Julius Wellhausen,
reduced the priestly Tabernacle to a post-exilic invention to give
credence to a fictitious period of desert wanderings.9 For
Wellhausen and his many adherents, the author of P fraudulently
created the Tabernacle by halving the dimensions of the
Jerusalem Temple.10 Many subsequent scholars hold opinions
similar to that of Wellhausen: the Tabernacle as described by P is
a fictitious model of the Temple;11 even if an early tent shrine
played a role in the pre-Solomonic cult of ancient Israel, it was far
more austere than P's tent.12
8
Josephus, Antiquities 3.102-87; Philo, On the Life of Moses 2.71-135;
Questions and Solutions in Exodus 2.51-124; Origen, Homiliae in Exodum 9.13;
De principiis 4.2.2; Jerome, Epistula 64; Augustine, Quaestiones in Exodum
104-40, 168-77; Locutiones in Exodum 114-27, 145-69; Bede, De tabernaculo
1-139; Homiliae 2.1, 2.24, 25 (For further references to these and other
Christian exegetes, see Arthur G. Holder, "The Mosaic Tabernacle in Early
Christian Exegesis," Studia Patristica 25 [1993]: pp. 101-06); Maimonides,
Dalalat al-Hairin (The Guide for the Perplexed); Rashi, Commentary on Exodus
26; Isaac Newton, The Temple of Solomon (London, 1702).
9
Karl H. Graf, Die geschichtlichen Biicher des Alien Testaments (Leipzig,
1866): p. 30; Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Berlin,
1883): p. 39.
10
For references, see p. 89 n. 1.
11
This includes both Solomon's Temple and the Temple of Zerubbabel,
which Wellhausen assumed was modeled on its predecessor and owned the
60:20:30 cubit measurements described in 1 Kgs 6:2.
12
Examples of scholars believing the Priestly author's Tabernacle is based
(at least in part) on the Jerusalem Temple include Ralph W. Klein, who states the
Priestly description of the Tabernacle represents an idealized version of a
simpler tent, which "surely incorporates in some fashion aspects of Solomon's
temple" ("Back to the Future: The Tabernacle in the Book of Exodus,"
Interpretation 50 [1996]: pp. 264-65). Similarly, G. Henton Davies: "it is
almost universally supposed that P's tabernacle is based on Solomon's temple"

INTRODUCTION

While Wellhausen and Higher Criticism severely damaged the


Tabernacle's credibility already in the nineteenth century, in the
twentieth century archaeology has cast doubt on the Bible's
account of Israel's tent-dwelling nomadic past. For example, a
literal reading of the P Exodus narrative of Israel's migration is
considered impossible, for if 603,550 adult non-Levitical males
and their families inhabited tents at Qadesh-Barnea for 38 years,
one would expect ample material evidence of their encampment,
for which there is currently none.13 But inflated numbers are not
the only obstacle to verifying this tent-dwelling heritage for
ancient Israel.
Two considerations have restricted archaeological investigation
of tents and tent-dwelling. First, tents leave little trace in the
material record. Until recently, archaeological discoveries of
fabric, poles, pole-holes, tent-outlines, ropes, pegs, or other
vestiges of tent-life were quite rare, though finding tents in the
archaeological landscape is becoming increasingly feasible.14
("Tabernacle," IDE IV [1962]: p. 504). So, too, Martin Noth: "The sanctuary . . .
is in P quite clearly orientated on the picture of the later temple at Jerusalem. The
only question is whether the model is the temple of Solomon ... or the temple
of Zerubbabel" (Exodus [Philadelphia, 1962]: p. 201). Ronald E. Clements
writes that the Tabernacle is a "description of a temple under the guise of a
portable tent sanctuary," (God and Temple [Philadelphia, 1965]: p. 111). For
more extreme views, see John Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition
(New Haven, 1975): pp. 14, 310, who claims that not only tent shrines, but
tents in general were lacking until they were popularized by Arabs in the first
millennium B.C.E. Even some of the greatest advocates for an actual Tabernacle
concede that in actuality it stood in a simpler form than the elaborate tent
described in the P text: Frank M. Cross, Jr., writes that the Priestly description
was "perhaps too complex and richly ornamented" ("The Priestly Tabernacle in
the Light of Recent Research," Temples and High Places in Biblical Times
[Jerusalem, 1981]: p. 169; From Epic to Canon [Baltimore, 1998]: p. 85). So,
too, Menahem Haran writes, "It is evident that as depicted in P the tabernacle is
largely imaginary and never existed in Israel" ("Shiloh and Jerusalem, JBL 81
[1962]: p. 14). Others, including Th. A. Busink, have argued that the Tabernacle
is a fiction due to the unfeasibility of construction (Der Tempel von Jerusalem
[Leiden, 1970]: pp. 602-03. For more detailed information concerning the state
of the field of Tabernacle historicity, see pp. 129-85 below.
13
Num 1:46 provides the population. On the absence of archaeological
confirmation, see Rudolph Cohen, "Excavations at Kadesh-barnea," BA 44
(1981): pp. 93-107. The chronology of 38 of 40 years at Qadesh-Barnea is
discussed in n. 24 pp. 134-35.
14
The recent improvements in camp-site excavations are examined in

CHAPTER ONE

Second, even when practicable, excavating tent fragments and


elliptical settlement patterns is less romantic and fruitful in both
publications and fundraising than digging a massive urban center.
Thus, while biblical houses, palaces, and temples have been treated
at length in modern scholarship, tents have for the most part been
neglected.
Nevertheless, the topic of tents, in both the Hebrew Bible and
the ancient Near East, has attracted a small but increasing
contingent of scholars, beginning in 1947 with Frank M. Cross
Jr.'s article on the Tabernacle, which remains the most influential
rebuttal to Wellhausen.15 Prior to Cross, those arguing for the
reality of an ancient Israelite cultic tent focused on portable
Bedouin shrines that bore limited resemblance to the
Tabernacle.16 Cross, however, drew on verbal and pictorial records
from Phoenicia, Ugarit, Egypt, and Mesopotamia to show the
actuality and antiquity of the Tabernacle, which Cross suggested
was modeled on 500-year-old written documentation of the tent
David erected for the Ark upon its initial entry into Jerusalem.17
Since Cross's work, ensuing studies have amassed data on ancient
Near Eastern tents, generally by focusing on a specific class of
tent or cultural area.18 Yet a comprehensive and detailed
chapter 4, pp. 47-59.
15
Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The Tabernacle: A Study from an Archaeological and
Historical Approach," BA 10 (1947): pp. 45-68; revised and reprinted as "The
Priestly Tabernacle," The Biblical Archaeologist Reader I (New York, 1961): pp.
201-28.
16
For these Bedouin and proto-Bedouin parallels to the Tabernacle (including
the 'utfah, mahmal, and qubba), see pp. 90-93.
17
David's tent is not the only Tabernacle prototype to be proposed. On
David's tent and the tent shrine of Shiloh as P's model, see below, pp. 133-37.
18
The most comprehensive studies on biblical and ancient Near Eastern tents
thus far include Kenneth Kitchen, "The Tabernacle-A Bronze Age Artefact,"
Eretz-hrael 24 (1993): pp. 119-29, "The Desert Tabernacle," BR 16.6 (2000):
pp. 14-21, and James K. Hoffmeier, "Tents in Egypt and the Ancient Near East,"
SSEA Newsletter vol. 7, no. 3 (May, 1977): pp. 13-28. Both gather primarily
Egyptian pictorial and written records, Kitchen to provide a Late Bronze setting
for the Tabernacle, Hoffmeier to disprove John Van Seter's claim of the absence
of tents in the 2nd millennium B.C.E. (see n. 12 pp. 2-3 above). Cross has
reexamined his previous studies in "The Priestly Tabernacle in the Light of
Recent Research," pp. 169-80. Another noteworthy contribution is Albrecht
Alt, "Zelt und Hiltten," Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vol. 3
(Munchen, 1959): pp. 233-42.

INTRODUCTION

examination of the Hebrew Bible's broad range of tents,


including the Tabernacle, has been conspicuously lacking.
Principle Aims of the Current Study
This book will strengthen the case for Israel's tent-dwelling past.
Certainly not all of ancient Israel stemmed from a nomadic
exodus from Egypt.19 Ancient Israel was composed of many
elements, but we shall see that much, if not most, of her heritage
involved living in tents. Similarly, the actuality of the Priestly
Tabernacle will be advocated. Although I began this enterprise as
a skeptic, the many parallels collected to the Tabernacle's form
and function have convinced me that an elaborate tent served as
the focal point for Israelite religion until the completion of
Solomon's Temple. If this tent-shrine did not correspond exactly
to the description in Exodus 25-27, it came very close. The many
other uses of tents will be explored, especially their role in warfare
and in wedding ceremonies.
The title of this book, "To your tents, O Israel!" is a call to
rebellion twice evoked in the Hebrew Bible's early monarchical
history. Sheba sounds it first in 2 Sam 20:1, expressing
dissatisfaction with Israel's membership in the Davidic united
kingdom. Two generations later, Rehoboam hears the same phrase
after alienating his northern Israelite subjects (1 Kgs 12:20= 2
Chr 10:16). The reason for invoking tents in a period dominated
by house-dwelling urbanism is somewhat enigmatic.20 Our final
chapter will examine this call in light of the many previously
explored functions of tents. Comparison with similar expressions
from cultures neighboring ancient Israel will show that the

19

The term "nomad" best fits the Exodus account, as "semi-nomad" implies
limited sedentarization and farming. Perhaps even more realistic is Michael B.
Rowton's term, "enclosed nomadism," discussed in "Economic and Political
Factors in Ancient Nomadism," Nomads and Sedentary Peoples (Mexico, 1981):
pp. 25-36. For further discussion, see Anatoly M. Khazanov, Nomads and the
Outside World (Cambridge, 1984): pp. 17-25, 53-59; revised edition with
expanded introduction (Madison, WI, 1994): xxix-lix; 17-25; 53-59; and Roger
Cribb, Nomads in Archaeology (Cambridge, 1991): pp. 15-22.
20
On the many interpretations of "To your tents, O Israel!" see below, pp.
187-92.

CHAPTER ONE

summons "To your tents, O Israel!" is part of a widespread creed


for disbanding councils, both divine and secular.
The subject of the following chapter is the terminology
associated with tents. The large number of terms, and the Hebrew
Bible's tendency to blend terms for tents and houses, will
strengthen the case for a heritage of ancient Israel in which tents
played a vital role.

CHAPTER TWO

TENT TERMINOLOGY: THE MANY WORDS FOR TENTS


AND THEIR INTERCHANGE ABILITY
This chapter examines the many terms
designating "tents" in the Hebrew Bible. It will
show that these expressions are not always
distinct, as biblical terms for "tent," "house,"
and other domiciles blend in usage. This
phenomenon seems to exist as a result of the
large impact of tents on the culture and heritage
of ancient Israel.

Balaam's oracle in Num 24:5 begins by blessing the Israelite


tribes: "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your tabernacles, O
Israel." The two words for tent-related architecture C?rm, ]3^p) are
among 13 used to designate tents in the Hebrew Bible. When one
compares this with the fact that there is only one word for tent in
the LXX (OKTjVr|), one realizes the importance of tents in the
culture of ancient Israel.1 Tent-related nomenclature transcends
portable dwellings, as even permanent structures are often
designated "tent" or "tabernacle," while at the same time
portable abodes are called "house" and "temple." This chapter
will examine individually the many tent designations in the
Hebrew Bible, to show how domiciliary terms are used
interchangeably, and to explore the underlying socio-historical
reasons behind this phenomenon.
1. TENT (XT*)
The most common Hebrew word for tent is ^rm. Derivatives of
^n appear 347 times in the Hebrew Bible, but not always in
1

For a further discussion of the Greek translation of "tent," see Russell D.


Nelson, Studies in the Development of the Text of the Tabernacle Account,
Harvard Dissertation (Cambridge, 1986): p. 49; David W. Gooding, The Account
of the Tabernacle: Translation and Textual Problems of the Greek Exodus
(Cambridge, 1959); Craig R. Koester, The Dwelling of God: The Tabernacle in
the Old Testament, Intertestamental Jewish Literature, and the New Testament
(Washington, 1989): pp. 19-20.

CHAPTER TWO

reference to portable architecture. The false-cognate D^ni* //


ni^nK occurs in at least three verses, always in parallel with myrrh
and other aromatic spices, and is identified with Aquilaria
agallocha, a nonmedicinal aromatic aloe.2 The plant is
indigenous to China and India, and the name derives not from
Semitic 'hi, but from Sanskrit aghal.3 One other passage employs
^riN in a manner not related to tents: Job 25:5 uses "Trw to
connote the moon's shining. As this verb is parallel to the stars
being "bright" ODT), several commentators believe the in 'rrw;?
to be superfluous, as elsewhere Job utilizes the root ^bn in the
hiphil to denote shining.4
The remaining 343 times, ^rm denotes domiciles, mostly
portable. Three passages utilize the root ^n verbally, with the
meaning "to pitch one's tent."5 The majority of nominal uses
(148) refer to the Tabernacle, most frequently designated "tent of
the appointed time" (ii?io Vnk), but also "the tent of the
covenant" (rvnrn ^rm), "the tent of Yahweh" (mrr ^rm) and

The wordn^n occurs in Prov 7:17; nib in Ps 45:9; Cant 4:14. The MT of
Num 24:6 also reads a^rm, but this is problematic, as the LXX, Vulgate, Syriac,
and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan all read "tents" (o^rm), favored by the context
within Balaam's oracle, especially vss. 5-6. Others prefer "oaks" (cr1?]*) for Num
24:6, as the word is parallel to "cedars." See John C. Trevor, "Aloes," IDB I
(Nashville, 1962): p. 88; Marvin H. Pope, Song of Songs, AB 7c (Garden City,
NY, 1977): p. 494. The confusion seems to arise from the verb IXM "to plant."
Admittedly, JXM is most often connected to flora, but elsewhere it is used with
"tents" (Dan 11:45, and perhaps Isa 51:16) and more frequently "people" (Exod
15:17; 2 Sam 17:10=1 Chr 17:9; Jer 24:6; 32:41; Ezek 36:36; Amos 9:15). The
similarities of driving a tent peg and planting are apparent, as is the
homophony of ixp] "plant" and no; "pitch a tent." See William H. C. Propp,
Exodus 1-18, AB 2a (New York, 1999): p. 541.
3
Thus English agal-wood, eagle-wood, or wood-aloe (xylaloe); ayctXXoxov
in Greek. See Chaim Rabin, "The Song of Songs and Tamil Poetry," Studies in
Religion 3 (1973): pp. 205-219; Marvin H. Pope, Song of Songs, p. 28,
Michael Zohary, Plants of the Bible (Cambridge, 1982): p. 204. However, D. J.
Wetzstein in F. Delitzsch's Die poetischen Bticher des Alien Testaments
(Leipzig, 1875): pp. 167-70 identifies the plant with cardamum, Arabic hyl
(,J.*jJ)) from 'hyl "little tent," because of the three-cornered shape of the plant's
capsules.
4
Job 31:26 C?rr); 41:10 C?nn). See Marvin H. Pope, Job, AB 15 (Garden City,
NY, 1965): pp. 163-64, who translates "7? in Job 25:5 as "bright," and
compares Job 4:17; 15:15; and Ps 8:3-4.
5
Qalbntriin Gen 13:12, 18; piel brr (a contraction of a putative *7rwr) in Isa
13:20.

TERMINOLOGY

simply "the tent" (brmn).6 At times the heavens are conceived of


as a tent stretched out by Yahweh.7 Tents also symbolize life.8
The root ^n is common in Semitic languages. Like Hebrew
*7rm, Ugaritic ahl and Aramaic ^n mean simply "tent." 9
However, other languages employ ^rm more broadly. For
example, Akkadian dlu(m)<*ahlum refers to a city, and a'lu, a
loanword from Aramaic, refers to "a people" or "a family," as
do Arabic 'ahl (,J.s&)) and Syriac yahld.10 Likewise, in the
Hebrew Bible, aii ^rm refers to the Edomites in Ps 83:7,
3ipJ '*?rm to the inhabitants of Judah in Jer 30:18, Zee 12:7, and
Mai 2:12, and 'ji^'na 'brm to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Lam
2:4.
2. BOOTH (n3o)
The word PDO, alternately spelled nsto, is used 38 times in the
Hebrew Bible, most often not for tents, but for temporary shelters
constructed of gathered foliage. Hence "booth" is a slightly
more accurate English translation than "hut." 11 The root -po is
common in Semitic languages, most often meaning "to cover,"
or "to weave." Arabic skk indicates covering or weaving,
suggesting an ultimate derivation from proto-Semitic *skk.12

Num 9:15; 17:22, 23; 18:2; 2 Chr 24:6 use rnyn ^n; we find nrr ^ in 1
Kgs 2:28-30; and ^n^n in Exod 33:7-11; Num 12:5, 10; Deut 31:14-15, etc.
7
Isa 40:22; Ps 19:5-6. Note also Plate 50aa Mesopotamian tent hosts the
sun disk.
8
Isa 38:12; Note also 2 Cor 5:1, where life is symbolized by a tent, and eternal life by a heavenly house.
9
For Ugaritic, see CAT 1.15.III.18; 1.17.V.32; 1.19.IV.50-52, 60. For
Aramaic, see Michael Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic
(Jerusalem, 1990): p. 37; Marcus Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary I (New York,
1903): p. 20.
10
For Akkadian, see Wolfram von Soden, Akkadisches Handworterbuch I, p.
39; CAD 1:1, pp. 379-91. For Arabic, see Edward W. Lane, Arabic-English
Lexicon 1:1 (London, 1863): p. 121. For Syriac, see Carl Brockelmann, Lexicon
Syriacum, 2nd ed. (Gottingen, 1928): p. 299; Grundriss der vergleichenden
Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen, I (Berlin, 1908-1913): pp. 194, 242.
11
"Hut" derives from Old English hyd (hide, skin), while "booth" denotes a
simple roofed structure built of any material at hand, often in the context of
animal husbandry or harvest (Webster's Third New International Dictionary
[1971]).
12
Edward W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon 1:4, pp. 1582-83.

10

CHAPTER TWO

Aramaic fcOioAoifa and Syriac swkt}/swk} are usually rendered


"bough" or "branch," but also "booth."13
In the Hebrew Bible, the Ark dwells in a n^o when the Israelites
are at war; so do Israelite and Syrian soldiers.14 Jacob builds ni30
for his cattle, providing the etymology for the Transjordanian
town Succoth near the mouth of the Jabbok River.15 Clouds are
occasionally described as booths constructed by Yahweh to shade
the earth.16 Most often nso refers to a temporary hut constructed
for shelter during the harvest.17 Hence they became the namesake
of the fall harvest festival Sukkoth, previously named "the Festival of Ingathering," during which one week is spent in booths to
commemorate the dwellings of the Exodus (Plate la).18 Also, roo
can also be used metaphorically for the prosperity of the
kingdom. Thus, TTT rDO in Amos 9:11 refers to the desired
restoration of David's kingdom. In like manner, Yahweh's
destruction of a nsfa symbolizes the end of all appointed holidays
in Lam 2:6. Finally, the root skk can be used verbally with the

13
Marcus Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary II, pp. 963-64; J. Payne Smith,
Syriac Dictionary (Oxford, 1903): p. 365; Michael Sokoloff, A Dictionary of
Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period (Jerusalem, 1990): p. 370.
14
2 Sam 11:11; 1 Kgs 20:12, 16. These are indeed booths, and not the town
of Succoth, pace Yigael Yadin, "Some Aspects of the Strategy of Ahab and
David," Bib 36 (1955): pp. 332-51; The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands (New
York, 1963): pp. 274-75. See Michael M. Roman, "Booths or Succoth?- A
Response to Yigael Yadin," JBL 118 (1999): pp. 691-97. Jacob's building
shelters for cattle with 2 Chr 14:14, which refers to "cattle-tents."
15
Gen 33:17.
16
2 Sam 22:12=Ps 18:12; Job 36:29. See also Isa 4:5-6, where na? is
parallel to nan. Note the photographs of early 20th century Palestinian booths
erected to watch crops, in Gustaf Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Paldstina
(Hildesheim, 1928): 2.11-16.
17
E.g., Isa 1:8; Job 27:18.
18
Neh 8:16 and Josephus, Wars 6.V.3, mention that booths were set up in
the Temple courtyard. Lev 23:39-43 commands that branches of four types be
gathered and applied to the booths: fruit of a majestic tree (~nn fu na), branches
of palm trees (crnon ris?), bough of a leafy tree (rby-fi? *$$)> and willows of a
brook 0?np:ni?)- However, cf. Neh 8:14-17, which prescribes branches of olive
(rn), tree of oil (yyti pi?), myrtle (onn), palm (nnran), and leafy tree (raypj?). Less
descriptive references to the Sukkoth festival include Lev 23:34; Deut 16:13-16;
31:10; Zee 14:16-19; Ezra 3:4. On the festival after the Babylonian Exile, see
Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic
Periods (Atlanta, 1995).

TERMINOLOGY

11

general meaning of "to cover," as in Exod 40:3, which instructs


that one cover (rteo) the Ark with the Paroket (n:ns).19
3. TABERNACLE (ptip)
The word prap appears 139 times in Hebrew Bible, most often
applied by the Priestly author to the Tabernacle. However, at
times, secular Israelite abodes, as well as those of foreign nations,
are designated as ntoBO in non-Priestly strata.20 Twice prap
designates a tomb (Isa 22:16; Ps 49:12) and once the abode of a
wild ass (Job 39:6). All other occurrences refer to the Tabernacle.
The word is qualified in various forms as mrr psjp (the
Tabernacle of Yahweh), ii?in brm pmn (the Tabernacle of the tent
of the appointed time), nii?n ptfn (the Tabernacle of the
covenant), ^lis? prap (the Tabernacle of your glory), ^n<p prara
(the Tabernacle of your name), and DTftHn rra ptpa (the
Tabernacle of the house of God).21 The word ptuo is derived
from the root pra (to dwell), a common verb virtually
synonymous with ~m and yn\ although the latter often implies
inhabiting a more permanent nature.22
Hebrew pan has many Semitic cognates.23 Ugaritic mskn refers
to a tent, and the verb skn means "to dwell."24 Among the several
19

For the Tabernacle's TJOE, see below, pp. 158-59.


Num 16:24, 27, for example, speaks of the tabernacle (ptw?) of Korah,
Dathan, and Abiram, which is alternately called a tent (brw) in verse 27. Three
other examples (Num 25:4; Isa 54:2; Jer 30:18) find pro as a secular Israelite
dwelling, but all are in poetry and all are parallel to ^n. For the tabernacles of
foreign nations, see Jer 51:30; Ezek 25:4; Hab 1:6.
21
The phrase mrr ptob occurs in Lev 17:4; Num 16:9; 17:28; 19:13; etc.;
urn "Tnhiatta in Exod 39:32; 40:2, 6, 29; 1 Chr 6:17; rran pata in Exod 38:21;
Num 1:50, 53; 9:15; 10:11; 17:23; 18:2), tfaa pan in Ps 26:8; -yyq pidb in Ps
74:7; DTftwr rra pra in 1 Chr 6:33.
22
For verbal usage of pa, see for example Lev 16:16, where the tent of the
appointed time "tabernacles" (pto), and Num 9:18, 22, where Yahweh's cloud
"dwells" (par) over the Tabernacle as an indication that the camp should stay
put.
23
Semitic skn may also shed light on the etymology of Greek OKrjVT], a word
first attested immediately following the Persian invasion of Greece (c. 490
B.C.E.). Earlier, Homer had called the portable dwellings of the Achaian soldiers
KXlOLr); these more resemble huts than tents (e.g. Iliad 24: 448-453). But the
Persian army's ornate tents, especially those of Darius and Xerxes, greatly
impressed the Greeks, as attested by Herodotus, Histories, VII. 119, IX.70, and
Xenophon, Cyropaedia, II.i.25-28; IV.ii.ll; VIII.v.2-16; Alexander too would
later construct an opulent tent, described in Quintus Curtius Rufus, History of
20

12

CHAPTER TWO

definitions of Akkadian maskanu are "tent," "house," "canopy," and "sanctuary.".25 Similarly sakdnu, a verb with the general meaning "to put, set, place," can also be used idiomatically
meaning "to pitch camp," and it is used in reference to setting up
a ritual tent at Mari.26 Aramaic and Syriac employ maSk'nd' for
"tent," while the verb skn means "to dwell."27 Later Aramaic
uses pfflfc to designate a general holy place, not just a tent shrine,
as in the 2nd century C.E. inscription from Hatra.28
The use of po for "tent" at Ugarit, and in the Oracles of
Balaam (Num 24:5), as well as the verb pro in the Noachic Oracle
(Gen 9:27), Jacob's Blessing (Gen 49:13), the Blessing of Moses
(Deut 33:12, 16, 28), and the Song of Deborah (Judg 5:17), all
point to the archaic usage of this root in Northwest Semitic
languages.29 Some have seen a deliberately archaic connotation
of nomadism in P' s preference for pro over iw and TU to describe
Yahweh's terrestrial dwelling.30

Alexander 10.5-6, and Athenaeus's .Deipnosophistae. In fact, the first


attestation of OKnvf| occurs in Aeschylus's The Persians, line 1000, designating
Persian tents. Thereafter, OKr|VT| also came to denote the theatrical stage
(whence English "scene"). Aramaic, the official language of the Persian empire,
would likely have referred to the emperor's ornate tent as poo, ultimately
evolving into Greek OKf|Vn. Syriac maSK'na' too denotes both a tent and the
stage of a theater. See J. Payne Smith, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary, pp.
306-07. On previous attempts at an Indo-European etymology, see Wilhelm
Michaelis, "OKf|Vr|," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 368.
24
For mSkn as tent, see CAT 1.15.III.19; 1.17.V.32-33; 4.335.28. For
Ugaritic Skn "to dwell," see 2.3.20; 2.33.23, 2.39.6, 4.245.1.3, etc.
25
CAD 10:1: pp. 369-73.
26
CAD 17:1: pp. 116, 127. For the ritual tent at Mari, see pp. 179-81.
27
Marcus Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary II, pp. 855, 1575. J. Payne Smith, A
Compendious Syriac Dictionary, pp. 306-07; Michael Sokoloff, A Dictionary of
Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, p. 334.
28
KAI 247. See Delbert R. Killers, "MSKN 'Temple' in Inscriptions from
Hatra," BASOR 206 (1972): pp. 54-56.
29
On the archaic character of these poems, see Frank M. Cross, Jr., and
David N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (Missoula, 1975). Also
note the use of the verb sakdnum for setting up a ritual tent at Mari (see pp. 11618).
30
E.g., Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The Priestly Tabernacle," The Biblical
Archaeologist Reader, pp. 224-27.

TERMINOLOGY

13

Ten Additional Designations (nag, pi, nan, Tnsxz?, nir-p, ma, nip,
mn,"inp, ^)
4. (nag) The Tabernacle, or a specific part of it, is referred to as
the nap in Num 25:8, where Phinehas pursues an Israelite man and
a Midianite woman into the Tabernacle and executes them for
defiling the sacred tent. The word parallels Syriac qbb'lqwbt'
(vaulted tent) and Arabic qubba (tent).31 The Priestly author's
use of this hapax legomenon may be playing on a following
word: Phinehas thrusts a spear through "her belly" (rrnaj?).32
5. (pi) Another word applied to tents is pi, from the root ppi
(thin), used in Isa 40:22b:
a-ftffl p'13 npn
rotf1? ^rfto ann??si
he who stretches out the heavens like a pi,
and spreads them like a tent to live in.

The use of pi parallel to brm, as well as the verb noi], both suggest
a meaning, perhaps "curtain."33
6. (nan) Similar in nature is nsn, a word now commonly applied
to canopies in Jewish wedding ceremonies. Isa 4:5-6 predicts that
Zion will be protected by a PDO and a nan. Joel 2:16 uses nan in
the context of a wedding, as does Ps 19:5-6, where nan is parallel
to bn.
7. (THEM) Another hapax legomenon used for a tent is found in
Jer 43:10, where Jeremiah predicts the overthrow of Egypt,
prophesying that Nebuchadnezzar will place his throne and
stretch his THBB near Pharaoh's palace.34 The verb no] (to stretch
out) as well as the Akkadian cognate suparruru (spread out)

31

On the pre-Islamic qubba tent shrine, see pp. 92-93.


Here the Syriac simply repeats baqqubbah, so the couple is pierced inside
the tent. It is not clear whether the word rnp refers to the Tabernacle as a whole or
a specific part of it. Perhaps it is the n:hs, if Richard E. Friedman is correct in
understanding it as a square tent and not a screen (see below, pp. 156-58).
33
For pi as a "curtain,"1 see Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40 66 (Philadelphia,
1969): p. 56; alternatively, John L. McKenzie translates pi as "veil" (Second
Isaiah [AB 20; Garden City, NY, 1968]: pp. 21-22.
34
The q3re is rnstB, while the k*tib is innsto.
32

14

CHAPTER TWO

indicate a tent-related nature for THEM.35 Likely, THEM is the


king's canopy as seen in reliefs and the bases of which were
discovered in Tel Dan's gate complex.
8. (njr-p) Another word affiliated with tents is nyp (curtain). The
panels of fine linen and goat hair which compose the
Tabernacle's coverings are designated nirT in Exodus 26 and 36.
David complains in 1 Chr 17:1 that while he lives in a house, the
Ark dwells niiTT nnn "under curtains." The corresponding verse
in 2 Sam 7:2 uses nir-pn qira "in the midst of the curtain." Ps
104:2 also uses rtiTT with the verb npi], likening the sky to a tent.
9. (rm) The noun rm is frequently used for the abode of
shepherds and their flocks. The word is parallel to ^rm in Job
5:24; 18:15, and Isa 33:20. Furthermore, rm is used in reference
to the tent David erects to house the Ark in 2 Sam 15:25.36
Akkadian nawu/namu likewise refers to the land inhabited by
nomads, most often the Amorites.37 It seems that rm is the filed in
which tents are pitched.
10. (nip) Elsewhere a group of tents is referred to as rnp, a term
used most often to refer to the encampments of Arabian nomadic
groups.38 The tent association is clear from Ps 69:26, which uses
rnp in parallel with brm.
11. (rnn) Yet another term for a collection of tents is mn, used in
reference to the encampments captured by Jair of Manasseh in
Gilead.39 The root is similarly used in Arabic for a collection of
tents (hiwd'a).
12. (Tnp) ~inp "hiding place" is used for shelters, in parallel with
"booth" in Ps 18:12=2 Sam 22:12, and Ps 27:5. Moreover, Ps
27:5 uses it in construct with tent (i^rw ~inp). The root is also
found verbally, referring to both tents and booths in Pss 27:5 and
31:21.

35
Akkadian Suparruru is often found in the context of textiles. See CAD
17:3: pp. 317-18.
36
Note also that ni} is used for Yahweh's abode in Exod 15:13 and for
Yahweh Himself in Jer 50:7.
37
CAD 11:1: p. 249; E. O. Edzard, "Altbabylonische nawum," ZA 53 (1959):
pp. 168-73.
38
Gen 25:16 (Ishmaelites); Num 31:10 (Midianites), and Ezek 25:4
(Qedemites).
39
Num 32:41; Deut 3:14; Josh 13:30; Judg 10:4; 1 Kgs 4:13; 1 Chr 2:23.

TERMINOLOGY

15

13. (bi?) ^ "shade" is naturally associated with tent. Isa 4:6


predicts God's creation of a heavenly canopy in order to give
relief from the day's heat. Both ino and bs, as well as rnp, likely
referred originally to the arrangement of tents and then the term
became used metaphorically for a group of tents.
14. (rrn) rrn is used of war camps in 2 Sam 23:11 and Ps 68:11.
Less certain to be tent-related is an enigmatic architectural feature,
designated 3i? in 1 Kgs 7:6, located in front of Solomon's palace.
Some have interpreted the structure as a pavilion or canopy, given
its association with pillars. However, this is unlikely, since Ezek
41:25-26 speaks of a wooden iv in Ezekiel's temple vision.
Tent Accessories
In addition to these 13 direct tent designations, there are many
words in the Hebrew Bible for tent accessories. Isa 33:20 refers to
Jerusalem as "an immovable tent, whose stakes (vrnrp) will never
be taken up, and all of its cords (T^sn) will not be broken."
Similarly, Isa 54:2 predicts the end of a woman's barrenness:
"Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your
tabernacles be stretched out; hold not back, lengthen your cords
(Tnn1'??) and strengthen your stakes 0|?rnrv)."40 In addition to trr,
^an, and nrr$/~irr, other tent accessories are included in the plans
for the Tabernacle: "pillar" (nar), "loops" (riN1?':'), "hooks"
(D'OTj?), "boards" (ahj?), "tenon" (-r), and "socket" (n)- 41
Tent Verbs
Apart from the aforementioned verbal aspects of bn, "po, pa,
and "ino, there are additional verbs associated with tents. The most
common is run, meaning "to encamp." For example, in Num
1:50-53, the root appears five times where the Levites are
instructed to pitch the Tabernacle and camp around it. In several
40
A similar metaphor is found in Jer 10:12, 20, where a destroyed tent and
broken tent-cords symbolize desolation. Additional usages of irr include: Exod
27:19; 35:18; 38:20, 31; 39:40; Num 3:37; 4:32; Deut 23:14; Judg 4:21-22 and
5:26 (as the weapon used by Jael); 16:14; Zee 10:4. The words irva/hn?. for a tentcord can be found in Exod 35:18; 39:40; Num 3:26, 37; 4:26, 32; Job 4:21.
41
See Exodus 26 and 36. For their role in the Tabernacle's construction, see
below, pp. 137-59.

16

CHAPTER TWO

places the verb has clear military connotations, where armies


encamp against opposing forces.42 The verb is not reserved for
humans, as locusts are said to be encamping (o^inn) on hedges in
Nah 3:17. The root mn also occurs nominally in reference to
encampments (rnnp), including the place names n~n]np (camp of
Dan) and D^rra (two camps).43
Another verb referring to tents is no:, with the general meaning
of "to stretch out." Thus Abraham stretches (asi) his tent just east
of Beth-El in Gen 12:8.44 Likewise, Moses stretches out the
~ti?iQ ^n in Exod 33:7, and David does the same for his tent in
Jerusalem in 2 Sam 6:17=1 Chr 16:1. This verb also describes
Yahweh's stretching out the heavens in Jer 10:12, 20 and Ps
104:2.45
Ambiguity in Hebrew Terms for Dwellings
As we have seen, the variety of designations for tents attests to
their importance in the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, there is
considerable fluidity in terminology associated with biblical
domiciles in general, both permanent and portable. In the Hebrew
Bible, not only can a tent be designated by 'jnft, }aato, nao, nag, pi,
nsn, THeo, nir-p, ni], rnp, rnn, ino, and *7$, but also by terms
typically reserved for non-portable dwellings, such as "house"
(rp?) and "palace" ("7371). Moreover, this transfer of terminology
is not uni-directional; i.e., solid structures are frequently referred
to by tent-related designations.
Portable Terminology for Permanent Dwellings - ^n for rra
The terms rr? and brm are used in parallel in Judg 20:8; Ps 84:11;
Job 21:28, and Prov 14:11, which suggests similar, if not
interchangeable, definitions. Moreover, often brm is used where
one would expect to find rr? or L?o<>n. In the following 12

42
Num 10:31; Josh 4:19; 5:10; 10:5, 31, 34; Judg 6:4; 20:19; 1 Sam 4:1;
11:1; 13:5, 16; 2 Sam 12:28; 23:23; 1 Kgs 16:15; 2 Kgs 25:1; etc.
43
Onp-rwnia, see Judg 13:25; 18:12. On O'lrra, see Gen 32:3; Josh 13:26, 30;
21:36; 2 Sam 2:8, 12, 29; 17:24, 27; 19:33; 1 Kgs 2:8; 4:14; 1 Chr 6:65.
Perhaps run derives from an Afro-Asiatic root hny; cf. Egyptian hn for "tent."
44
For similar usage of noa, see Gen 26:25; 33:19; 35:21; Judg 4:11.
45
See also Job 26:7.

TERMINOLOGY

17

examples,46 ^rm is used in an expression meaning "to go


home." 47
1) Judg 19:9. A man offers his Levite son-in-law hospitality by
asking him to spend the night. The father-in-law then suggests,
"you shall rise early tomorrow for your journey, and you shall
go to your tent (^nto1?)." It is possible that the Levite has been
traveling with a tent, but it is not mentioned elsewhere in the
passage. The best explanation is that the phrase "go to your tent"
here means "go to your home."
2) 1 Kgs 8:66. Following the weeklong celebration of the
Temple's dedication, the people bless their king and "go to their
tents (orr'zrm'p)."48 Again the expression apparently means "go
to their homes," as tents are not mentioned elsewhere in this
context.
3) 1 Sam 4:10. Israel loses the battle and the Ark to the
Philistines. The text states that after the fighting, "they [Israel]
fled, each to his tent(s) (r^n'N1?)."
4) 2 Sam 18:17. The Israelite supporters of Absalom return home
following the usurper's death, "and all Israel fled, each to his
tent(s) (r^m^)."
5) 2 Sam 19:9. David stops mourning and goes to the city gate.
The text repeats that "all Israel had fled, each to his tent(s)
CrtnttO."
6) 2 Kgs 14:12 (= 2 Chr 25:22). Amaziah, the king of Judah, is
defeated by Israel under King Jehoash. After the battle, "they
fled each man to his tent(s) (v^nto1? KP wri)." The subject of 013
must be Judah, since only the defeated would "flee."
7) 2 Sam 20:22. Joab lays siege to Abel-Beth-Maacah, until the
head of Sheba is thrown over the wall. Joab blows the shofar,
"and they dispersed (lUB'i) from about the city, each man to his

46

Two cases in Chronicles mirror passages in Kings; hence, there are


actually 14 examples.
47
There are many examples where the phrase "to go home" utilizes the
expected rra, (see for example: Deut 20:5-8; 1 Sam 15:34; 2 Sam 11:9; 12:15;
etc.)- However, both RSV and IPS translate the Hebrew phrase "to go to one's
tent" in the first nine of the following examples as "to go home"; the last two
they translate literally.
48
In this and the following examples, "tents" is used in the plural whenever
the subject is collective.

18

CHAPTER TWO

tent(s) (r^rm1?)." The subject of ps is the Judahite army under


Joab.
8) Judg 7:8. Gideon is facing the Midianites, and of his 32,000
troops he lets 22,000 go. Ten thousand are still too many, so the
300 who lap water from their hands remain, while the rest "he
sent away, every man of Israel, each to his tent(s) (v^ntf 1 ?)."
9) 1 Sam 13:2. Saul chooses 3,000 men out of Israel, and the rest
of the people "he sent each man to his tent(s) (v^rm 1 ?)."
10) Judg 20:8. After a Levite's concubine is fatally raped, the
enraged Israelite nation tells him "we will not go each to his tent
(il?nl7), and we will not return each to his house (irrnb)." Here
one might argue that rrn and ^rm are distinguishable: neither the
people who inhabit tents nor those who live in houses shall return
to their residences. However, in light of the 11 other examples
presented here, as well as archaeological data suggesting that Iron
Age Israel's urban population vastly outnumbered seminomadic
pastoralists, it seems more likely that the two terms are simply
used in synonymous parallelism.49 Consequently, both expressions mean the same thing: "we will not go home."
11) 2 Sam 20:1. Shortly after Absalom's revolt is quelled, Sheba
blows the shofar and says, "There is no portion for us in David,
and no inheritance for us in the son of Jesse. Each man to his
tent(s), O Israel!frvniD*.v^nto1? ah*)-" The reasons behind this call
to tents, as with the following example, are complicated, and will
be treated at length in this book's final chapter. For our purposes
here, it should be noted that tents are not mentioned elsewhere in
the passage, and Sheba's main goal appears to be the dismissal of
the council to their homes.
12) 1 Kgs 12:16 (= 2 Chr 10:16). Rehoboam ignores the advice
of his wiser counselors and acts harshly towards his northern
subjects. Israel sends word back to the king, saying,
"What portion is there for us in David? And no inheritance in the son
of Jesse. To your tent(s), O Israel! (^knar ^rm^). Now see to your
house, O David (111 ^rv2)!" And all Israel (each man) went to his tents
(rtntfp).
49

For archaeological information on the urban nature of Iron Age Israel, see
below, pp. 47-52.

TERMINOLOGY

19

Once again, the exhortation to go to tents suggests that the


assembly simply goes home.
Ten of the 12 examples above are directly associated with the
military. Despite the natural association between tents and
warfare,50 the 10 examples listed above follow battles, and as the
majority of troops were house-dwellers, it remains peculiar that
they should return to their tents. Rather they should be going
home from their tents.
Curiously, in nine of the 12 passages above, when the group
that returns to their "tent(s)" is specified, it is always Israel as
opposed to Judah.51 It is possible that the usage of brm in the
sense "to go home" is an expression reserved to the northern
tribes. More likely perhaps in the majority of cases, however, the
name Israel refers to all the tribes, including Judah. Still, not only
does 1 Kgs 12:16 use ^rm twice specifically in reference to
Northern Israel returning home, but the charge to David to "see
to your own house" is followed in verse 24 by Shemaiah's order
that the troops from Judah "return each man to his house"
(irv:)1? BP law). This correspondence of rra to Judah and *?n to
Israel might be directly related to the Ark's transition from an
amphictyonic tent sanctuary to a permanent home in Solomon's
Temple.52
In addition to the 12 examples listed above, we find "tent" in
place of the expected "house" five other times.
1) Isa 16:5. Isaiah prophesies vindication following Moabite
oppression:
50

See chapter 5, pp. 61-78. Note also that the tent-dwelling Rechabites not
only fought with Jehu (9th century B.C.E.), but were still around in Jeremiah's
time (1-6* century B.C.E.).
51
Examples 2, 3-5, and 8-12.
52
See below, pp. 133-37. Ps 78:60-70, which legitimates Mount Zion as
Yahweh's permanent home, illustrates that housing the Ark in anything but a
transportable tent must have been quite controversial. Note also the symbolic
correspondence between rra and^nfc in Ps 132:3, where David himself claims to
live in a tent, while the Ark lacks a tent. Thus the tent is a claim of
impermanency, while the rra is a dynasty. In fact, Judah is called "house of
David" in Isa 7:13, the Tel Dan Inscription, and perhaps the Moabite Stone.
Northern Israel lacked such a permanent dynasty. Only once the house of David
is gone can it be described as nx> and ^nx, terms associated with destruction and
impermanence. Perhaps the tent David erects for the Ark in 2 Samuel 6 is a
necessary transition from the tribal alliance, as the structure remains tent-related
but no longer moves from city to city.

20

CHAPTER TWO

And a throne shall be established in mercy,


and he [the prince] shall sit on it in stability
in the tent of David ("in *7rw),
judging and seeking justice and swift in righteousness.

The tent in the above passage might refer to the royal house of
David's descendants (cf. Arabic 3ahl "family") or possibly
David's military tent mentioned in 1 Sam 17:54. However, the
latter seems unlikely, given references to throne (o:>) and justice
(osffin). The expression "tent of David" could perhaps refer to all
of Judah, just as "tents of the daughters of Zion" describes
Jerusalem.53 However, in the several cases where ^rm refers to
specific regions and their populations, it consistently appears in
plural construct C^rw), whereas here "tent of David" is in the
singular.54 More to the point, Judah and Jacob are all names of
nations, not people. Another possibility is the tent David erects for
the Ark in 2 Sam 6:17, as if David judged in Yahweh's own
abode. More likely, given the context, the verses describe an
outdoor pavilion, in which David sits to judge the accused.55 A
final possibility is that "tent" may be a poetic description of
David's palace. In any case, ^rm is here used ambiguously in a
context where one might expect rva.
2) Num. 19:14-16. This passage contains a law for when a man
dies in a tent. Presumably, the law applies to houses too, but P is
attempting to avoid anachronism by placing the statute in its
wilderness setting. P's consciousness of the difference between the
pastoral lifestyle of the desert and sedentary habitation is clear in
Lev 14:34, where the procedure for dealing with a "leprous"
house is prefaced by "when you come into the land which I am
giving you."
3) Ps 132:3. This psalm claims David will lead an austere life until
he finds a home for Yahweh. Verse 3 states, "I [David] will not go
to the tent of my house (TV? Xjfcs), or go up to the couch of my
53

Lam 2:4.
See "tents of Judah" (Zech 12:7), "tents of Jacob" (Jer 30:18; Mai 2:2),
"tents of Edom" (Ps 83:7), and "tents of Kedar" (Ps 120:5).
55
Note the base of such a pavilion discovered at the gate of Dan (Plate 5Ob),
a common location for deciding legal cases (Avraham Biran, Biblical Dan
[Jerusalem, 1994]).
54

TERMINOLOGY

21

bed (''vw uru?)-" The expression "tent of my house" is unique,


and seems again to be a case where ^rm is equivalent to rp?.
Admittedly, Mitchell Dahood claims ^rm is here a canopy or
baldachin, comparing Prov 7:17,56 but D<l'?n in Proverbs most
likely refers to aloe. It would rather seem that, just as "couch of
my bed" (ww fcrii?) employs two synonyms in construct, the
same holds true for "tent of my house." Psalm 132 describes
both David and Yahweh as inhabiting tents, on some level
modeling the king on the deity, just as Solomon will build solid
palaces for both himself and God.57 Similarly, in vv. 8 and 14,
David's bed parallels Yahweh's nrnira.58
4) Ps 15:1. Yahweh is asked "Who shall reside in your tent? Who
shall tabernacle on your holy hill?" At the time of composition,
likely in the sixth-fifth centuries B.C.E., many centuries had
passed with a temple or the remains of a temple on Mount Zion's
summit.59 Apparently, the phrase is metaphoric,60 and Yahweh's
tenting is traced by Cross to El imagery.61 The issue is
complicated by the apparent belief of several ancient authors that
the Tabernacle was in the Temple.62 But in any event "tent" is
used where we would expect either "house" or "temple."
5) Ps 27:4-6. Three verses refer to the Temple, as rv3, ^n, nan,
and ^rm:
4 I have asked one thing from Yahweh; that I will seek: That I may
dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life;
To behold the beauty of Yahweh, and to inquire in His temple.
5 For He will hide me in his booth in a bad day;

56

Mitchell Dahood, Psalms III, AB 17a (Garden City, NY, 1970): p. 243.
As suggested to me by William H. C. Propp.
58
Alternatively "the tent of my house" may refer to a tent erected on the roof
to sleep under; cf. Absalom's tent on the palace roof discussed on p. 119-21, and
a picture of a 18th Dynasty Egyptian house from the tomb of Thotnefer in which a
bed under a canopy seems to be prepared on the uppermost of three stories (Dan
Svarth, Egyptisk M0belkunst Fra Faraotiden [Denmark, 1998]: p. 21).
59
On the dating of Psalm 15, see Charles A. Briggs, The Book of Psalms,
ICC (New York, 1906): pp. 112-16.
60
Compare the reference to the Temple as the "house of the tent" in 1 Chr
9:23, the meaning of which is discussed below, pp. 173-77.
61
See below, pp. 94-99.
62
See below, pp. 173-77.
57

22

CHAPTERTWO
He will hide me in the hidden place of His tent, He will set me high
upon a rock.
"And now my head will be lifted above my enemies all around me,
and I will sacrifice in His tent sacrifices of joy;
I will sing and I will praise Yahweh.

Admittedly, this is poetry and so the language may be more


evocative than precise. Nevertheless, these two verses illustrate the
fluidity of residential terminology.63
Portable Terminology for Permanent Dwellings - "pfflp for ITS and

^n
Similarly, the Temple is often referred to as a pujp. This is
perhaps not as surprising as the ^rm designation, since ]2m most
frequently means "tabernacle," but also occasionally implies a
more general "dwelling." There are six examples of such an
interchange.
1) Ps 26:8. Yahweh's house, the Temple, is said to be the place of
His glory's "tabernacle" C]3ra&).
2) Ps 43:3. The subject asks God to bring him to "your holy hill
and to your Tabernacle(s) (^pnlastpn). "64
3) Ps 46:5. God's city, presumably Jerusalem, is referred to as
"the holy Tabernacle of the Most High."
4) Ps 74:7. The psalm laments the destruction of the Temple,
stating: "They set your sanctuary on fire; to the ground they
desecrated the Tabernacle of your name."65
5) Ps 132:5-7. David vows he will not rest until he finds ni:DWp for
Yahweh. As Yahweh previously occupied the Tabernacle, at least
according to the Primary History, the use of }3!i?n here is
somewhat surprising. Even so, again the terms "temple" or
"house" might be expected, although David does make a tent for
Yahweh.

63
The context is again military, as in verse 3 enemies encamp. The Temple
is called a "tent" also in the Wisdom of Solomon 9:8.
64
The plural may connote grandeur or complexity. Compare Ugaritic bhtm as
an elaborate bt "house."
65
God is also said to pto on Mt. Zion in verse 2.

TERMINOLOGY

23

6) Ezek 37:27. Ezekiel's visionary Temple is referred to as "My


[Yahweh's] Tabernacle (^saiia)".
Again, the above six examples of ]3!ijp can be understood as
"dwelling." But given the overwhelming use of iDtin to denote
God's tent, its association with permanent dwellings is slightly
unusual.
Permanent Domiciliary Terminology for Portable Dwellings
Up to this point we have seen that ^rm and p^p are often found
where one might expect either rv? or ^n. Conversely, at times rr?
and ^n can be used for a tent structure. For example, we find
two anomalous references to houses in Genesis, both in the
Patriarchal narratives. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are explicitly
described as tent-dwellers.66 Nevertheless, Gen 27:15 states that
"Rebekah took the clothes of Esau her elder son, the costly ones
that were with her in the house, and she clothed her younger son
Jacob."67 Moreover, Gen 33:17 places Jacob in a house at the site
of Succoth.68
Another possible case of this phenomenon is 2 Kgs 23:7. As
part of Josiah' s religious reforms, "he destroyed the ritual houses
that were in the house of Yahweh, where the women were weaving
houses for Asherah." As the root n (to weave) is at no other
time associated with house construction, it seems that the women
are manufacturing fabric.69 Godfrey R. Driver invokes an Arabic
cognate (batt) meaning "vestments."70 However, this definition is
not found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, and there is little reason
to doubt that Dsn3 simply means homes, which here happens to be
tents.
Similarly, the tent David erects in Jerusalem to house the Ark is
referred to as mrr IT? in 2 Sam 12:20, as elsewhere the phrase
66

See below, pp. 29-31.


However, rra may here mean "inside," i.e. in her part of the tent.
68
It is clear this really is a house, as the verb is rm, not no:.
69
This verse was seen as problematic over 2000 years ago, as the LXX
apparently sought to transliterate rra rather than translate, yielding a corrupt
XTTL8LV. See Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmor, II Kings, AB 11 (Garden
City, NY, 1988): p. 286.
70
Godfrey R. Driver, "Supposed Arabisms in the Old Testament," JBL 55
(1936): p. 107.
67

24

CHAPTER TWO

mrr rra is applied to the Tabernacle,71 which is also called


D'rfwn-rr? in Judg 18:31 and ^n in 1 Sam 1:9; 3:3.72 These
passages are frequently seen as anachronistic and examples of the
authors' ineptitude. However, in light of the frequency with which
domiciliary terms interchange, this need not be the case.73
Perhaps rrs is not a house per se, but a place where something
is found, a residence or container. Such seems to be the case in
Gen 28:17-19 and 35:14-15, where Jacob pours oil on a standingstone (najjQ) at Luz, and subsequently changes the name of the
place to Bethel (the house of God). Parallel to this is Philo of
Byblos's euhemeristic account of the battle between Ouranos and
his son Kronos. Ouranos is said to have made paLTUXux, which
Philo claims are animate rocks (XlBoiK 6[I^l)XOU<r).74 A stone is
clearly not a house, but it contains the spirit of God.
The usage of rra to denote a place where an object can be
found may explain the anomalous case of 1 Chr 9:23, where
house is used in construct with tent: "And they [the Levitical
gatekeepers] and their sons (were) over the gates of the house of
Yahweh to the house of the tent C?nn rva1?) by watches." Thus
the phrase ^rmn IT? may simply mean the building where the tent
is found, namely: the Temple.75
Sociohistorical Reasons for Fluidity in Terminology
The interchange of terms discussed above is more than a curiosity
of metaphorical language. It reflects an important sociohistorical
process: the sedentarization of nomads. As pastoralists abandon
transportable domiciles and settle in cities, domiciliary terms for
portable and permanent architecture grow increasingly synon71

Josh 6:24; Judg 15:17, 24; 19:18.


Note the shrine at Shiloh is called "the tent of the appointed time" in 1
Sam 2:22; on the nature of Shiloh's structure, see below, pp. 203-09. Josephus,
Antiquities, 3.6.1, also calls the Tabernacle a temple (VtXOT).
73
See further below, pp. 133-37.
74
Philo of Byblos 810:28. For a commentary see Albert Baumgarten, The
Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (Leiden, 1981): p. 202.
75
It could also mean the house that is symbolically a tent. Another explanation might be that the author of Chronicles is attempting to avoid anachronism
by using "?n for David's appointment of the gatekeepers prior to Solomon's
construction of the Temple. Nevertheless, other passages in Chronicles suggest
that this author envisions the Tabernacle as residing within the Temple; see
below, pp. 173-77.
72

TERMINOLOGY

25

ymous.76 Thus in Arabic not only are there many words for tents
and their accessories, but also domiciliary terminology can be
used interchangeably. Arabic bayt sa'r (j-*- c*e ) "house of
hair" refers to tents.77 Less common, but still attested, is the
employment of bayt alone for a tent.78
It is widely assumed that the Semites in general, and Northwest
Semites in particular, had nomadic antecedents.79 At Ugarit, El's
abode receives the tent-related designations ahl "tent," mskn
"tabernacle," dd "domed-tent," and qrS "tent-frame," as well as
the non-tent-related mtb "dwelling," mzll "shelter," bt "house,"
and hkl "temple."80
Cuneiform tablets from Mari also refer to a tent shrine.81
Furthermore, Akkadian bitu "house" can refer to an encampment of nomads, and we have already seen that the term for city,
dlu, etymologically means "tent."82
The interchange of portable and permanent domiciliary
terminology is paralleled outside of the Semitic world. For
example, in the original Tatar and Mongol languages, "yurt"
(IOPT) is the word for "house," since the yurt was the primary
76

Many Bedouin began settling in urban areas as early as the mid-19th


century as recorded by Claude R. Conder, Tent Work in Palestine (London,
1878): 2.271.
77
Edward W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon I, pp. 280.
78
Ibid. Note also that Arabic bayt can refer to portable Islamic tent-shrines,
and the sacred symbols inside (Herbert G. May, "The Ark-A Miniature Temple,"
AJSL 52 [1936]: p. 229). The terms for these tent shrines (qubba, mahmal,
'utfah) also blend in usage (Julian Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the
'Tent of Meeting,'" HUCA 17 [1942]: pp. 191-92).
79
See below, pp. 94-99; 116-18.
80
El's tent is designated ahl in CAT 1.15.HI.18-19, and perhaps CAT
1.19.IV.50-60; mSkn in 1.15.III.17-19; dd and qrS in l.l.HI.23-24; 1.4.IV.2324; 1.6.1.34-36; mtb and mzll in 1.4.1.13-19; IV.52-57; bt in 1.17.1.32-33; II.45, 21-22; 1.114.12 (although Hebrew 'w has tent-related connotations,
discussed above p. 19); and hkl in 1.21.8 and perhaps 1.3.V.21. Other Ugaritic
words, such as hmt, designate tents. See p. 94 n. 24, p. 99 n. 46.
81
See pp. 116-18.
82
CAD 2: pp. 282-96. Perhaps related to this is the fact that several Amorite
rulers boast of a nomadic heritage of tent-dwelling, including Hammurapi of
Babylon and the 17 tent-dwelling ancestors of the Assyrians. See Donald J.
Wiseman, "They Lived in Tents," Biblical and Near Eastern Studies, Essays in
Honor of W. S. Lasor (Grand Rapids, 1978): pp. 195-200, and Jean-Robert
Kupper, Les nomades en Mesopotamie au temps des rois de Mari (Paris, 1957):
pp. XIV ff.

26

CHAPTER TWO

residential shelter while the Tatars maintained a nomadic


lifestyle.83 "Yurt" further designated a specific territory allocated
to the members of the ruling family.84 However, "yurt" is
defined more narrowly by sedentary peoples, translating "tent"
or "camp."85 After many Tatars sedentarized in the 13th century,
the word "yurt" and the local term for house blended in usage in
the Tatar language.86
A Few Further Remarks on the Fluidity in Terms for Dwellings
Though "house" and "tent" may seem dichotomous, possibly
the ambiguity is greater for our 21st century post-Enlightenment
minds than it was for the Israelites. Paradoxical domiciliary
imagery also appears in Ps 104:2b-3a, which describes Yahweh as
"stretching out (noil) the heavens like a curtain (nirT); laying
beams (rnpnn) in the waters of his upper rooms." This Psalm
mentions neither ^rm nor rva explicitly, but the terms na3 and nyi*
are otherwise reserved for tent-related structures, while the verb
mp is consistently used in house construction.87 Apparently, the
lines that separate tent and house dwelling are often blurred.
Even today many Near Eastern house-dwelling urbanites erect
tents adjoining or on the roofs of their houses and flats, especially
as a means to cope with the heat of summer.88 Also, many houses
in the Near East incorporate tent-fabric into their roofs, as seen in
two homes (Plates Ib, 2a) and one public building (Plate 2b) in
northern Syria. So too are tents reinforced with housing material
(Plate 3a), in contrast to the more traditional goat-hair tent (Plate
83
See Vladimir N. Basilov and O. Naumova, "Yurts, Rugs, and Felts" in
Nomads of Eurasia (Seattle, 1989): p. 101.
84
For example, Genghis Khan divided the territory of his empire into four
yurts for each of his legitimate sons, as told to me by Anatoly M. Khazanov.
85
I.e., in Russian and several Turkic languages. To Russian and Turkish
urbanites, "yurt" means a round tent, and not a permanent house.
86
See Vladimir N. Basilov and O. Naumova, "Yurts, Rugs, and Felts," p. 101.
See also Anatoly M. Khazanov, Nomads and the Outside World (Cambridge,
1984): pp. 233-63.
87
For the association of no] with tents, see Gen 12:8; 26:25; 33:19; Exod
33:7; Judg 4:11; Isa 54:2-3; Jer 43:10. For the use of mp in house construction,
see 2 Chr 34:11.
88
As witnessed by the author in Tyre, Damascus, and Amman. Note that 19th
century Bedouin inhabit tents in the winter and reed huts in the summer (Claude
R. Conder, Tent Work in Palestine, 2.276).

TERMINOLOGY

27

3b). However, the extent to which this was practiced in antiquity


remains unknown.
The following two chapters explore the domestic use of tents
by ancient Israel and her neighbors. Chapter three examines the
issue by focusing on historical sources, while chapter 4
investigates the archaeology of pastoral nomadic societies in
which tents provide the dominant form of habitation. All of these
next chapters will strengthen the case for ancient Israel's tentdwelling heritage.

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CHAPTER THREE

TENT HOMES: THE TEXTUAL CASE FOR ANCIENT


ISRAEL'S TENT-DWELLING HERITAGE
The biblical authors claim a non-sedentary
tent-dwelling heritage. This is manifest in
genealogies, narratives about the patriarchs
and matriarchs and Israel's desert wanderings,
as well as perceived relations with their
nomadic contemporaries. Their claim is
supported by the accumulation of biblical
evidence and historical references to Late
Bronze tent-dwelling pastoralists.
While
ancient Israel's background was surely mixed,
there is little reason to doubt that many, if not
most, of their ancestors lived in tents as
seminomads, as will be shown here and in the
following chapter, which addresses this issue
from the perspective of archaeology.

Ancient Israel's Tent-Dwelling Heritage: The Evidence from


Genesis
According to Gen 9:21, humans universally descend from a tentinhabiting ancestor, as Noah lives in a tent after the flood.
However, the situation rapidly diversifies in the next generation.
Unlike his brothers Ham and Japheth, Israel's ancestor Shem
alone is said to possess tents (Gen 9:27). So begins the Hebrew
Bible's claim that tents were the principal habitation for ancient
Israel prior to the settlement of Canaan.
Tents are very prominent in the patriarchal period. Abraham
inhabits a tent throughout his journeys (Gen 12:8; 13:3, 18; 18:12), with Sarah's tent pitched nearby (Gen 18:6, 9, 10; 24:67).
Tents similarly house Lot (Gen 13:5, 12), Isaac (Gen 26:25), and
Jacob (Gen 25:27; 31:25, 33; 33:18-19; 35:21). The Hebrew
Bible's conception of the patriarchal encampment is elaborated in
Gen 31:33, where separate tents are allotted to Jacob, Rachel, and
Leah, while a single tent is apparently shared by the two
maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah.

30

CHAPTERTHREE

A few more details concerning tents can be gleaned from the


narratives of Genesis. Tents were pitched in a variety of terrains
and environs, ranging from isolated mountains (12:8; 31:25) to
urban outskirts (33:18). The tent-door twice proves an auspicious
setting: once as a place for Abraham to seek refuge from the
day's heat (18:1) and once as a location for Sarah's auspicious
eavesdropping (18:10). Apparently baking wares and ingredients
are stored in Sarah's tent (18:6), and after her death, Sarah's tent
passes on to the newly weds Isaac and Rebekah (24:67).
This conceived Israelite tent-dwelling heritage is further
expressed in genealogies. The Israelites generally claim kindred
relations to non-sedentary tent inhabitants, while distancing
themselves from house-dwelling urbanites. Groups that are the
epitomy of tent-dwelling nomads in the Hebrew Bible, such as the
Ishmaelites, Midianites, and Edomites, are all closely related to
Israel, being either uncles (Ishmael and Midian) or a fraternal twin
(Edom) (Figure I).1

Ishmael's birth is recorded in Gen 16:15; Midian's in Gen 25:2; Edom's and
Israel's (Esau and Jacob) in Gen 25:25-26. Ishmael's affinity for tents is
mentioned in Gen 25:16 and Ps 83:7. Midian's use of tents is established in Num
31:10; Judg 7:1, 8, 13; Hab 3:7. Midian's relation with Israel is made more
intimate through the marriage of Moses to Zipporah, the daughter of the
Midianite priest (Exod 2:21). The Bible again recalls the relationship to Edom
in Deut 23:8, "You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother." Edomite
tent usage is mentioned in Ps 83:6, and also the records of Rameses III, who
claims to have pillaged the tents (Vzr) of Se'ir (ANET, p. 262). For further
discussion of Edom in Egyptian sources, see Kenneth A. Kitchen, "The Egyptian
Evidence on Ancient Jordan," Early Edom and Moab (Sheffield, 1992): pp. 2134. Further evidence for Israel's affiliation with tent-dwelling peoples can be
seen from the Hivites, a group closely related if not synonymous with Edom.
The very name "Hivite" (hivvwl) seems to mean "tent-dweller" (see above, p. 14),
and a Hivite woman named Oholibamah, "my tent is a high place," marries Esau,
the ancestor of Edom. See Cyris H. Moon, A Political History of Edom, Emory
Dissertation (1971): pp. 27-28. Archaeological evidence of these non-Israelite
tent-dwellers is examined below, chapter 4, pp. 47-59.

TENT HOMES

31

Figure 1 - Conceived Genealogies of Israel and Her Neighbors

Moreover, like the Israelites, the tent-dwelling Ishmaelites,


Midianites, and Edomites appear to be tribally organized.2
Conversely, non-tribal groups purported to be house-dwellers,
such as the Egyptians, Canaanites, and Philistines, all descend
from Ham according to Genesis 10.3 These urban-based cultures,
according to the authors of the biblical genealogies, could not be
less related to ancient Israel, because the only common ancestor is
Noah.

2
Gen 25:16 seems to indicate that like Israel, Ishmael contained 12 tribes.
Midian's tribal organization is suggested in Num25:15. Edom's genealogy in
Genesis 36 has also been argued to consist of 12 tribes, although this is less
certain. See Cyris H. Moon, A Political History of Edom, pp. 16-20. Israel's
tribal organization can be seen as early as the second half of the 12th century
B.C.E. in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5). See David N. Freedman, "Early
Israelite Poetry and Historical Reconstructions," Symposia for ASOR's 75th
Anniversary (Cambridge, MA, 1979): p. 88; Baruch Halpern, The Emergence of
Israel in Canaan (Chico, 1983): pp. 146-49, and Lawrence E. Stager,
"Archaeology, Ecology, and Social History: Background Themes to the Song of
Deborah," VTSup 49 (1987): pp. 221-34; "The Song of Deborah," BAR 15
(1989): 50-64.
3
For the urbanism in Egypt, Canaan, and Philistia, see Mason Hammond,
The City in the Ancient World (Cambridge, 1972): pp. 70-91. The emphasis on
cities from ancient Egypt can further be seen from the Egyptians' contempt for
nomads (see p. 36 n. 18), and such passages as Gen 41:48, Ezek 29:12.
Canaanite urbanism is highlighted in Josh 11:10. The importance of cities for
Philistia is shown by their city-state government (Josh 13:3; 15:46). However,
the dichotomy between tent- and house-dwelling is blurred in Ps 78:51, which
calls Egypt "the tents of Ham"here, "tents" may connote "clans" (see above,
p. 9).

32

Ancient Israel's
Wanderings

CHAPTER THREE

Tent-Dwelling

Heritage:

The

Period

of

Tent homes, so prevalent in the patriarchal period, reappear in the


Israelite historical narrative following the Exodus. After an
interval of house-dwelling servitude, Israel returns to the tent
throughout the generation of wanderings until the settlement in
Canaan. The first thing Balaam notices while surveying the
Israelites from atop a Moabite hill is "How goodly are your tents,
O Jacob, your tabernacles, O Israel" (Num 24:5). Numerous
other passages record the encampments of the Israelites in the
wilderness (e.g. Exod 16:7, 16; 18:7; 33:8; Lev 14:8; Num 11:10;
16:26-27; 19:14; 24:2; Deut 1:27; 5:30; 11:6; 16:7; Josh 3:14;
7:21; 22:4, 6-8; Ps 78:55).4 The authors of the Hebrew Bible
emphatically believed that ancient Israel descended from a tentdwelling, non-sedentary people.5
The ancient Israelite encampments recorded in Numbers are
arranged by genealogical proximity, a practice closely mirroring
the layout of contemporary nomadic camps in the Levant.6 This
is apparent in JE, which states that "Israel encamped according to
his tribes" (Num 24:2). It is even more clearly developed in P:
not only do the Israelites encamp by tribe, but there is a direct
relationship between the degree of kinship and camp proximity.
That is to say, the more closely related the tribes, the more likely
they are to encamp next to one another. Numbers 2 describes the
maternal affiliation and camp layout as follows:

4
Other passages record a non-sedentary past from which tent-dwelling might
be inferred; e.g., Deut 26:5 recollects "My father was a wandering Aramaean."
Similarly Ps 105:12-13 and 1 Chr 16:19-20 remember the past as follows:
"When they were few in number, insignificant, and strangers in it, wandering
from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people . . . ."
5
Contrast William G. Dever's claim that Israel knew they descended from
urban Canaanite house-dwellers, examined below, pp. 50-51.
6
William Lancaster, The Rwala Bedouin Today (Prospect Heights, IL, 1997):
pp. 10-11.

TENT HOMES

33

Figure 2 - Tribal Genealogy (Genesis 29-30; 35) and Encampment (Numbers 2)

Benjamin and Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, all


claim descent from Rachel and are camped next to one another
on the west side. A similar arrangement is found on the east side,
where all three tribes are children of Leah. The picture is more
complicated with the remaining two sides. On the north side, Dan
camps in the center, but the position of Asher and Naphtali is
problematic, as the text enigmatically places them with Asher
"next to him [Dan]" and "then" Naphtali (Num 2:27-29).
Consequently, the position of Asher and Naphtali could be
reversed in the model above.7 The same holds true for the south
side, with Reuben's position fixed but those of Simeon and Gad
flexible (Num 2:12-14). The encampment as depicted above
places Simeon and Reuben next to their full brothers on the east,
and the children of Bilhah on the north in close proximity to the
tribes descending from Bilhah's mistress Rachel. The picture is
admittedly problematic for Zilpah's children; in any possible
reconstruction, they are separated, with one on the north (Asher),
and one on the south (Gad). Nonetheless, they may be placed
7

As in Jacob Milgrom's reconstruction, although the 11 remaining tribes


correspond to our model exactly (Numbers, IPS Torah Commentary
[Philadelphia, 1989]: pp. 340-41.

34

CHAPTER THREE

near the offspring of Leah, Zilpah's mistress. Much of this


displacement, with Gad replacing Levi, stems from the adjustment
of the geneology to create 13 tribes with Levi in the center of
camp. Despite the uncertain placement of the tribes camped north
and south and the separation of Zilpah's descendants, there
generally exists a greater tendency to camp near one's closest
relatives.
Yahweh's Tent-Dwelling Heritage
Equally vital to understanding the Bible's tent tradition is
Yahweh's famous tent home, the Tabernacle.8 Just as the urban
Israelites claimed to have once dwelt in tents, so they believed
their god originally inhabited a Tabernacle. In fact, on Sinai,
Yahweh reveals a celestial prototype (rp]3n) to Moses when
ordering the construction of the Tabernacle (Exod 25:9).9 That is
to say, Yahweh owns and lives in two tents: one perched in heaven
above Sinai, and one which moves among His terrestrial
subjects.10 According to the Bible, Yahweh inhabits the
Tabernacle for nearly three centuries; it serves as the focal point
of the Israelite cult until the completion of Solomon's temple.11
Nathan's oracle in 2 Sam 7:5-6 illuminates the difficult transition:
Thus says Yahweh: "You will build for me a house for my dwelling?
For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the children
of Israel from Egypt, and until this day, but I have been moving about
in a tent and in a Tabernacle."

Although one generation later He opts to settle permanently, here


Yahweh chooses a tent over a temple.12
8
For an analysis of the Tabernacle's form and historicity, see below, chapter
8, pp. 129-85.
9
Celestial prototypes are standard in ancient Near Eastern literature about
temples, as displayed in Gudea (ANET 268-69).
10
Admittedly, some understand rrnn as denoting a mere blueprint. However,
the root rtD indicates it is something built, i.e. a three-dimensional measured
model. Also, various passages describe the heavens as a celestial tent, e.g. Isa
40:22; Pss 19:4; 104:2.
11
On the debate concerning the nature of the shrine at Shiloh, variably called
a "tent," "house," "tabernacle," and "temple," see below, pp. 133-37.
12
The struggle at Ugarit between the upstart, house-dwelling Baal and the

TENTHOMES

35

Positively Connoted Tents and Their Inhabitants in the Hebrew


Bible
The majority of literature from the ancient Near East relegates
tents and their inhabitants to the realm of the ignorant and
barbaric. That is to say, the normative connotation for both tents
and nomads is negative. This is displayed early in the historical
corpus; the Sumerian Marriage of Martu describes an Amorite as:
A person who digs for truffles in the highlands, who knows not how
to pay homage. He eats uncooked meat, who as long as he lives has
no house, and when he dies, receives no burial.13

The failure to live in permanent dwellings is one of the main


peculiarities for which the Amorites are castigated.14 Also, the
Sumerian Lament for the Destruction of Ur, compares destroyed
houses to "tents" and "booths" in order to emphasize their
impermanence.15 A similar disdain for tents and nomads abounds
in the later literature of Assyria. We find a change only with the
rise to prominence of Amorite dynasties in both Babylonia and
Assyria. Now both Hammurapi and Shamshi Adad I boast of their
Amorite ancestors as asibut kultari, "tent-dwellers."16 Nonsedentary people are typically perceived in Assyrian annals as
bandits posing continuous threats to trade and communication.17
patriarchal, tent-dwelling El is another illustration of the problems in
transference from tent to house (see pp. 94-99). Just as Yahweh inherits epithets
and attributes of both El and Baal, he appears to imitate first El and then Baal in
respect of domicile. The tent is maintained as a reminder of Yahweh's and his
people's seminomadic, egalitarian heritage, while the palatial house represents
sedentarization and monarchy. Richard E. Friedman's theory, in which the
Tabernacle was incorporated into the Temple's cult, would further highlight the
difficulty in the total abandonment of a tent-dwelling lifestyle (see pp. 173-77).
13
Translation from Jerrold S. Cooper, The Curse ofAgade (Baltimore, 1983):
pp. 30-33. See also Samuel N. Kramer, Sumerian Mythology (Philadelphia,
1972): pp. 99-101.
14
Note also the Sumerian contempt for the seminomadic Gutians, in Jerrold
S. Cooper, The Curse ofAgade, pp. 30-33.
15
ANET, p. 457.
16
The tent-dwelling origins of Assyria's first 17 kings, and the similar
heritage of the First Dynasty of Babylon, are described in Jacob J. Finkelstein,
"The Genealogy of the Hammurapi Dynasty," JCS 20 (1966): p. 95-118.
17
See J. Nicholas Postgate, "Nomads and Sedentaries in the Middle Assyrian
Sources," Nomads and Sedentary Peoples (Mexico, 1981): pp. 47-56; Israel

36

CHAPTER THREE

Similar views come from Egypt as well, where tents are mostly
reserved for those perceived to be uncultured and ignorant.18
We expect such views from the literature of the Mesopotamian
and Egyptian literate, urban elite. It is all the more surprising that
tents and pastoral nomadism are for the most part positively
connoted in the Hebrew Bible, even though it, too, must have been
composed by and for cultured urbanites. Already in Genesis 4,
the fruits of Abel's pastoral efforts are preferred to those of his
farming brother.19 Nothing negative stems from the tent-dwelling
heritage associated with the patriarchs and the period of
wanderings; rather, there is a fondness in these recollections, and
nomadism is even celebrated.20 For example, the annual
construction of booths during Sukkot pays homage to Israelite
ancestors who wandered the wilderness in impermanent structures
(Plate la).21 This temporary return to a tent heritage is in some
ways paralleled by the Muslim Haj, when tent-cities are set up on
the plain of Arafat (Plate 4a)22, and to a lesser extent, tent
mosques which shade worshippers (Plate 4b).
Eph'al, The Ancient Arabs (Leiden, 1982): pp. 150-53, 174-75; Donald J.
Wiseman, "They Lived in Tents," pp. 195-200.
18
Thus, the Amarna Letters complain about tent-dwelling hapiru and Shasu
raiders; see ANET, pp. 487-90; Raphael Giveon, Les bedouins Shosou des
documents egyptiens, DMOA 22 (Leiden, 1971): documents 11 and 36. Perhaps
related is the Egyptian disdain for the Hyksos, likely to be of Amorite tentdwelling stock (Aharon Kempinski, "Some Observations on the Hyksos [XVth]
Dynasty and its Canaanite Origins," Pharaonic Egypt, the Bible and
Christianity [Jerusalem, 1985]: pp. 129-38; William A. Ward, "Some Personal
Names of the Hyksos Period Rulers and Notes on the Epigraphy of Their
Scarabs," UF 8 [1975]: pp. 353-65).
19
Note that in Gen 4:20, Cain's descendant Jabal is said to be the father of
tent-dwellers. Apparently, the line of Jabal replaces the extinguished Abel.
20
Israel's "nomadic ideal" was first promulgated by Karl Budde, "The Nomadic Ideal in the Old Testament," The New World, 4 (1895): pp. 726-45. See also
John W. Flight, "The Nomadic Ideal in the OT," JBL 42 (1923): pp. 158-226;
Paul A. Riemann, Desert and Return to Desert in the Pre-Exilic Prophets, Harvard
Dissertation (1964). Contrast Shemaryahu Talmon, who dismisses the desert
ideal in "The 'Desert Motif in the Bible and in Qumran Literature," Biblical
Motifs, ed. Alexander Altmann (Cambridge, MA, 1966): pp. 31-63, and William
G. Dever, "Israelite Origins and the 'Nomadic Ideal': Can Archaeology Separate
Fact from Fiction?", Mediterranean Peoples in Transition (Jerusalem, 1998): pp.
220-37.
21
See above, pp. 9-11.
22
The tents erected at Korazim to house the Christian pilgrims during Pope
John Paul IPs visit to Israel in March of 2000 also reflect a return to tents.

TENT HOMES

37

Another aspect of the Hebrew Bible's affinity for tents and


their inhabitants is the biblical authors' admiration for those who
forwent the urban house-based lifestyle and remained in tents.
One example is the Kenite people, most clearly seen in Judges 4
and 5. The defeated Canaanite general Sisera flees the Israelite
forces, seeking refuge at the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the
Kenite. The story is full of irony. Sisera, representative of the
Canaanite city-states, uses Jael's tent to hide, an action further
emphasized when Jael covers him with a blanket (Judg 4:18-19).
Although Sisera envisions the tent as his salvation, it proves to be
his undoing. The tent itself is even the murder weapon, as Jael
hammers a tent-peg into Sisera's head (Judg 4:22). Unlike other
literatures of the ancient Near East dealing with nomads, Judges 45 positively portrays the Kenites and their tents.
An even clearer case in which tents and their associated way of
life are fondly portrayed concerns the Rechabites in Jeremiah 35.
Jeremiah tells how the Rechabite ancestor, Jonadab ben Rechab,
had essentially commanded that his descendants remain nomadic,
specifically forbidding houses, the consumption of wine, and
farming (Jer 35:7).23 Jeremiah's point seems to be admiration for
the Rechabites' steadfastness in the face of adversity, but along
the way, their tents and tent-dwelling are again positively featured.
Tents also bear positive connotations in Prov 14:11: "The
house of the wicked will be destroyed, and the tent of the
righteous will flourish." Similarly, Cant 1:5 uses tents as a
metaphor for beauty, as does Balaam's oracle in Num 24:5.
Nevertheless, the Hebrew Bible's use of tents is not always
positive. Two antagonists in Job twice use negatively-connoted
tents in explaining their theodicy.24 Bildad the Shuhite in Job
8:22 predicts the destruction of the "tent of the wicked," and
Eliphaz the Temanite in 22:23 speaks of removing iniquity far
from one's tent (though this could be seen as positive).25 Ps
However, this was a practical matter, while the use of tents at Arafat seems
highly symbolic.
23
This portrayal of the Rechabites bears many similarities to the description
of the Nabataeans by Diodorus of Sicily 19:94. See David F. Graf, "The Origin of
the Nabataeans," Aram 2:1 (1990): p. 52.
24
Yet, the book of Job as a whole evinces a romanticization of tent-dwelling
pastoral nomadism.
25
Also see Job 11:14; 12:16; 15:34; 18:15.

38

CHAPTER THREE

84:10 also contrasts the "house of my God" with the "tents of


wickedness." Other negative connotations naturally occur when
tents are associated with Israel's enemies.26 Even so, it remains
striking that ancient Israel's portrayal of tent-homes, be they of
the patriarchs, those escaped from Egyptian bondage,
contemporary neighbors, or even the home of Yahweh, is most
often positive, a rare phenomenon in the ancient Near East.
Arabian Tents of the Past Remembered Fondly: A Case-Study
from Modern Jordan
A tent-dwelling nomadic heritage is likewise often vaunted within
the Arab world.27 Islam's holiest shrine, the Ka'ba, is believed
originally to have been a tent.28 Similar to the biblical holiday
Sukkot, several Islamic celebrations, including Id 'al-'Adha (the
feast of sacrifice), celebrate a tent-dwelling past.29 However,
consistent with the normal ancient Near Eastern contempt for tent
dwellings, various Islamic governments have ridiculed and
disapproved of tents and their inhabitants. Such is the situation in
many documents from the Ottoman period, which resemble those
from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, equating tent-dwellers with
uncivilized barbarians unaware of the superiority of urban
living.30 Thus the Bible's positive inclination towards tents and
their inhabitants is all the more remarkable.
Despite the negative portrayal of tents by various Islamic
powers, there exists nostalgia for tents among former nomads who
have recently become sedentarized. The fond recollection of a
tent-dwelling past so prominent in the Hebrew Bible is also
exhibited in a field-study the author conducted in the south26

For the use of tents in the armies of ancient Israel and her neighbors, see p.

77.
27
Illuminating ancient Israel by examining the 19lh and 20th century Arab
world is a practice which has been abused (see p. 91 n. 10 below). Nevertheless,
there remains merit in reserved comparison. For example, both ancient Israelite
and Arab societies are patrilineal, and at least some continuation in culture can
be seen in the retention of place names in Palestine and the Near East in general.
28
See below, pp. 93-94.
29
Gustave E. von Grunebaum, Muhammadan Festivals (New York, 1988): pp.
34 ff. Note also the employment of Bedouin tents in Islamic urban celebrations,
most notably weddings.
30
See Norman N. Lewis, Nomads and Settlers in Syria and Jordan, 1800-1980
(Cambridge, 1987): pp. 24-73.

TENTHOMES

39

Jordanian village of Qreiqara. The population of Qreiqara is


estimated at 300 people, nearly all Bedouin, although from four
separate tribes: the 'Azazmah, 'Amarin, Sayadin, and Feinan
Rashayid.31 Between February and August of 1999, over 30 of
the village's elder male population were interviewed regarding
their former pastoral lifestyle and memories of tents. Not only
were tents and their corresponding way of life fondly recalled by
all of the subjects, but many continued to occupy tents within the
village, foregoing houses. All of the subjects expressed the
superiority of tents over houses, although their reasons varied.
Some cited the freedom inherent to tents, others their low cost in
contrast with houses. The pleasant sound of the wind amplified by
the tent panels was mentioned by many.
One final point of relevance reoccurred through these
interviews: the line between the nomadic and sedentary is most
often blurred. Not only were the majority of the subjects
simultaneously living in both houses and tents, their families'
subsistence included a mixture of farming and pastoralism. The
knowledge of farming possessed by the occupants of the Iron IA
highland settlements is often cited to discredit a pastoral heritage
for ancient Israel.32 Yet, in addition to pastoralism, these modern
Jordanian tent-dwellers know a great deal about farming. They
are basically tent-dwellers in the initial stages of sedentarization.
Even the Rwala, considered the most nomadic of the Bedouin,
incorporate houses and tents in many villages.33 The houses are

31
On the accuracy and imagination of Bedouin ethnicity, see Andrew J.
Shryock, "Popular Genealogical Nationalism: History Writing and Identity
among the Balqa Tribes of Jordan," Comparative Studies in Society and History
37 (April, 1995): pp. 325-57; Dale F. Eickelman, "Being Bedouin: Nomads and
Tribes in the Arab Social Imagination," Changing Nomads in a Changing World
(Brighton, 1998): pp. 38-49.
32
See William G. Dever, "Cultural Continuity, Ethnicity in the Archaeological Record, and the Question of Israelite Origins," Eretz-Israel 24 (1993):
p. 26 . Note also the agricultural components of the patriarchal narratives
(including the possession of wheat, grain, grapes, lentils, and almonds) pointed
out by Norman K. Gottwald, Tribes of Yahweh (New York, 1979): p. 452.
33
See Roger L. Cribb, "Mobile Villagers: The Structure and Organization of
Nomadic Pastoral Campsites in the Near East," Ethnoararchaeological
Approaches to Mobile Campsites (Ann Arbor, 1991): p. 386.

40

CHAPTER THREE

not for the permanently settled; however, they are reserved for
families briefly passing through.34
Persian Tent-Heritages Maintained
The reluctance to part with a tent heritage can also be seen in 15th
and 16th century Persia. The Timurids and Safavids adhered to
their nomadic tent-dwelling past, as the ruler set up a tent-camp
adjoining his stone-built palace in the capital.35 Also, the
architecture of these palaces often was modeled on the form of a
royal pavilion.36 Thus, the Timurids and Safavids celebrated and
maintained their tent-dwelling past rather than abandoning it.
Tent-Dwellers of the Bronze Age: The Amurru, Habiru, Shasu,
and Israelites
The topography and climate of the non-coastal Levant are
conducive to pastoralism. From history's onset, there have
constantly been seminomadic tent-dwellers roaming about the
region.37 In contrast to the Mediterranean Sea area, where
farming and fishing provide the main sustenance, the Sahara-Arab
desert zone provides an environmental framework in which

34

Despite the Rwala's possession of houses, they remained nomadic. E.g.,


out of 500 Rwala families at the fairly permanent encampment of Ar-Risha in
1972, only eight remained in 1979. William Lancaster, The Rwala Bedouin
Today, 2nd edition (Prospect Heights, IL, 1997): p. 10.
35
Monika Gonke, "The Persian Court Between Palace and Tent," Timurid Art
and Culture, eds. Lisa Golombek and Maria Subtelny (New York, 1992): pp. 1822.
36
Bernard O'Kane, "From Tents to Pavilions: Royal Mobility and Persian
Palace Design," Ars Orientalis 23 (1993): pp. 249-68.
37
It is unknown when tents first began to be used, but evidence suggests
their presence in the Neolithic period. The east Jordanian Azraq oasis revealed
rows of stones most likely used to support the walls of tents, as told to me by
Phil Wilke and Leslie Quintero. Several tent-camps dating from the Neolithic to
EB periods exist in the Negev and Sinai (Uzi Avner, "Settlement, Agriculture and
Paleoclimate in 'Uvda Valley, Southern Negev Desert, 6th-3rd Millennia BC,"
Water, Environment, and Society in Times of Climatic Change, A. S. Issar and
N. Brown, eds. [Netherlands, 1998]: pp. 147-202, and Uzi Avner, Israel Carmi,
and Dror Segal, "Neolithic to Bronze Age Settlement of the Negev and Sinai in
Light of Radiocarbon Dating," Late Quaternary Chronology and Paleoclimates
of the Eastern Mediterranean, Ofer Bar-Yosef and Renee S. Kra, eds. [Cambridge,
MA, 1994]: pp. 265-300).

TENTHOMES

41

migration increases the chances of survival.38 The population


inhabiting tents at any given time is difficult to ascertain; the
number is also dynamic, changing dramatically across different
time periods. Such is the case with the end of the predominantly
urban Early Bronze III period and the beginning of the Early
Bronze IV/Middle Bronze I, when the amount of seminomadic
activity greatly increased.39 One thousand years later, the Late
Bronze II period saw vast political upheaval and various mass
migrations, as seminomadic tent-dwelling peoples expanded while
urban-centers again declined. The emergence of the formerlynomadic Aramaeans, Edomites, and Israelites is to be associated
with these changes.40 Shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem in
587 B.C.E., as Mesopotamian strength reached its peak, the tentdwelling Nabataeans came to power on the fringes of the
Babylonian/Persian empire, their power climaxing during the
Roman era. So too did the onset of Islam in Arabia represent a
38

Anatoly M. Khazanov, Nomads and the Outside World (Madison, 1994):


pp. 85-118.
39
The period after the abrupt end of EB III cities in Palestine c. 2300 B.C.E.
was initially termed MB I. As sites demonstrating cultural continuity between
MB I and EB III began to emerge (most notably Bab edh-Dhra), however, the EB
IV nomenclature has gained in popularity. On the seminomadic nature of the EB
IV period, see Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (New York,
1990): pp. 151-73. Debates continue as to whether the EB III was ended
violently by invading Amorites, or by an Egyptian campaign under Pepi II, or
whether nomadic groups simply filled an existing vacuum, though it is likely to
be a combination of factors rather than a single-cause.
40
Previously, the Edomites were believed to be attested in the archaeological
record beginning in the Iron II period (Crystal M. Bennett, "Excavations at
Buseirah, Southern Jordan, 1974," Levant 1 [1975]: p. 5; "Biblical Traditions
and Archaeological Results," The Archaeology of Jordan and Other Studies
[Berrien Springs, 1986]: pp. 77, 80). Now, increasing evidence attests that
there were Edomites in the Iron I period, perhaps with items of material culture
paralleling ancient Israel, such as collar-rim jars. For references, see Israel
Finkelstein, Living on the Fringe (Sheffield, 1995), pp. 127-37. For a
synthesis of Edom in the Iron I period, see Piotr Bienkowski, "Iron Age
Settlement in Edom: A Revised Framework," The World of the Aramaeans
(Sheffield: in press). On some of the earliest Iron Age remains of Edomite
culture, see Thomas E. Levy, Russell B. Adams, and Rula Shafiq, "The Jabal
Hamrat Fidan Project: Excavations at the Wadi Fidan 40 Cemetery, Jordan
(1997)," Levant 31 (1999): pp. 293-308, and Michael M. Roman, Russell B.
Adams, and Thomas E. Levy, "The Iron Age in the Jabal Hamrat Fidan (Jordan):
A Preliminary Assessment of the 1997-1999 Seasons," Wadi Faynan
Conference, forthcoming.

42

CHAPTERTHREE

period in which nomadic groups increased in number and


strength.
Two of these periods (EB FVYMB II and LB II/Iron I) concern
us here, as they might to correspond to biblical claims of tentdwelling. The increase in Amorite41 nomadization in the Early
Bronze IV period, especially their presence in the Negev, led
many scholars to see this as the chronological setting for the
patriarchs.42 Relevant here is the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe, in
which tent-houses are attested in Canaan.43 Nevertheless, various
aspects of the patriarchal narratives seem better placed in a MB II
context, especially in light of the Mari texts.44 It now seems that
the stories of Genesis 12-50 are best understood against a wide
range of periods, from the Early Bronze Age to the Iron Age.45
The claim by John Van Seters and Thomas Thompson that the
patriarchal stories have nothing to do with the history and culture
of the early ancient Israelites is exaggerated, as is Van Seter's
argument for a late Iron Age context for Abraham based on a
supposed lack of tents in second millennium sources.46 Tents
have been documented in ancient Near Eastern historical sources

41
On the appropriateness of the term "Amorite," see William G. Dever, "The
Beginning of the Middle Bronze Age in Syria-Palestine," Magnalia Dei, eds.
Frank M. Cross, Jr., Werner E. Lemke, and Patrick D. Miller, Jr. (Garden City,
1976): pp. 5-6.
42
E.g. William F. Albright, "Abram the Hebrew," BASOR 163 (1961): pp.
36-54. On Bronze Age settlement in the Negev, see Rudi Cohen, "The
Settlement of the Central Negev in the Light of Archaeology and Literary
Sources During the 4th-5th Millennia BCE," Ph.D. dissertation, The Hebrew
University, 1986.
43
ANET, p. 20.
44
Against the extremely late dates argued by John Van Seters, Abraham in
History and Tradition (New Haven, 1975): p. 17, and Thomas L. Thompson, The
Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives: The Quest for the Historical Abraham
(Berlin, 1974): pp. 85-88, William G. Dever is correct in surmising "the Mari
material provides the best available data ...
for promising research on
patriarchal backgrounds" based on laws, customs, and topography ("Palestine in
the Second Millennium BCE," Israelite and Judaean History, Hayes and Miller,
eds. [Philadelphia, 1977]: pp. 116-17).
45
E.g., patriarchal activity in the Negev seems to represent EB IV; the MB II
laws of Mari correspond to Abraham's adoption of Lot, while Isaac's blessing of
Edom (Gen 27:40) could not have been written until Edomite independence in the
mid-9th century.
46
John Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition, p. 14.

TENT HOMES

43

from the onset of history until the modern period.47 The family
of Abraham's migratory tent-living may well be related to
Amorite nomadization, especially those of the EB IV and MB II
periods. Still, caution is advised, given the paucity of evidence.
Linking the biblical accounts of Israel's presettlement
wanderings with Late Bronze extra-biblical sources concerning
seminomadic tent-dwellers has been a more fruitful enterprise.
Throughout the second millennium B.C.E., but especially in the
Late Bronze Age, Egyptian and Mesopotamian sources record the
presence of unsettled tent-dwelling people designated as hapiru.4*
The term was initially linked to nai? "Hebrew," but, while this
remains linguistically possible, it is clear from extra-biblical
sources that hapiru is best understood not as an ethnic group, but
as a social stratum or lifestyle, something akin to "fugitive." 49
Even so, this designation by no means contradicts the Israelite
self-conception.50 The similarities in designations and lifestyles
seem to transcend the realm of coincidence.
Similar in nature are the Shasu, although the term is limited to
Egyptian sources. Like Habiru, Shasu most often refers to a social

47

For tents specifically referenced in second millennium B.C.E. sources, see


Victor H. Matthews, Pastoral Nomadism in the Mart Kingdom (ASORDS 3;
Cambridge, MA, 1978), and Donald J. Wiseman, "They Lived in Tents," Biblical
and Near Eastern Studies (Grand Rapids, 1978): pp. 195-200.
48
Also written habiru. For information concerning the Habiru, see George E.
Mendenhall, The Tenth Generation (Baltimore, 1973): p. 138; Manfred
Weippert, The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Palestine (London, 1971):
pp. 63-102; Frank A. Spina, "Israelites as gerim," The Word of the Lord Shall
Go Forth, Fs for David N. Freedman (Winona Lake, Indiana, 1983): pp. 330-32.
George E. Mendenhall, "The Amorite Migrations," Mari in Retrospect (Winona
Lake, IN, 1992): pp. 233-41; Israel Eph'al, The Ancient Arabs (Leiden, 1982):
pp. 10-11, and the works cited in the following note.
49
The term fyapiru occurs over 250 times in cuneiform sources. On its
meaning, see Niels P. Lemche, "Habiru, Hapiru," ABD III, pp. 6-10; Moshe
Greenberg, The rjab/piru (New Haven, 1955); Nadav Na'aman, "Habiru and
Hebrews: The Transfer of a Social Term to the Literary Sphere," JNES 45 (1986):
pp. 271-288. The use of fyapiru as a collective term parallels the use of "Arab,"
which became an all-inclusive term for nomadic peoples from the 9th century
B.C.E. onward (John F. Healey, "Were the Nabataeans Arabs?" Aram 1:1 [1989]:
p. 40).
50
E.g. Gen 23:4 "I (Abraham) am an alien (ia) and a visitor (sann) with you";
Deut 10:19 "For you were aliens (Q'Hi!) in the land of Egypt." See Frank A. Spina,
"Israelites as gerim" pp. 330-32.

44

CHAPTER THREE

class rather than an ethnic group.51 Shasu is also applied


geographically, although the region is not consistent, ranging
from Syria to Nubia.52 However, it is most often applied to the
area of southern Edom and to its corresponding population.53
The Egyptian texts recording the employment of Shasu
mercenaries mention their inclination to thievery, their pastoral
tent-dwelling lifestyle and tribal organization. The last two items
correspond to biblical accounts of the Israelite ancestors.54
Further corroborating the biblical claim of a Late Bronze Age
tent-dwelling existence is the Merneptah stele.55 While tents are
not mentioned explicitly, "I-s-r-'a-a-l" is followed by the
hieroglyphic determinative for an ethnic group rather than a
country or city, implying that "Israel" is an unsettled or newlysettled people.56 The stele further locates the Israelite people in
Canaan, although no mention is made of their derivation from or
any connection with Egypt.57

51

Manfred Weippert, "Semitische Nomaden des zweiten Jahrtausends. Uber


die Sjsw der agyptischen Quellen," Bib 55 (1974): pp. 265-80, 427-33; William
A. Ward, "Shasu," ABD V, pp. 1165-67.
52
The presence of Shasu in Nubia has been attributed to possible migrations
from Southwest Asia (Raphael Giveon, "The Shosu of the Late XXth Dynasty,"
JARCE 8 [1970]: pp. 51-53). But this is not necessary, if we assume the term
primarily connotes a lifestyle.
53
Shasu is equated with Se'ir (Edom) in the records of Rameses II. See
Kenneth Kitchen, "Asiatic Wars of Ramses II," JEA 50 (1964): pp. 66-67.
54
Raphael Giveon, Les bedouins Shosou des documents egyptiens (Leiden,
1971): documents 37-38; pp. 114-115 n. 5. Papyrus Harris I, 76, 10 mentions
the Shasu's tents and livestock; Papyrus Anastasi VI refers to the Shasu's
migrations with livestock; see Kenneth A. Kitchen, "The Egyptian Evidence on
Ancient Jordan," pp. 21-34.
55
The Victory Stele of Merneptah is dated to c. 1207 B.C.E. by Lawrence E.
Stager, "Merneptah, Israel and Sea Peoples: New Light on an Old Relief," EretzIsrael 18 (1985): pp. 56-64.
56
Contrast places such as Gezer and Ashkelon in the Merneptah stele, which
are provided with the Egyptian determinative for "city." Gosta W. Ahlstrom,
however, rejects the association of Merneptah's "Israel" with a people, claiming
that the reference is geographical, in Who Were the Israelites? (Winona Lake,
1986).
57
As pointed out by William G. Dever, "Israel, History of (Archaeology and
the 'Conquest')," ABD III, p. 546. However, it could be argued that many
Israelites never left Canaan for Egypt.

TENT HOMES

45

Some Concluding Remarks on Ancient Israelite Tent Homes


The authors of the Hebrew Bible believed their ancestors were not
tied to one specific location; rather, they periodically migrated
while living in tents. This assertion is corroborated on many
levels: an extensive Hebrew vocabulary for things tent-related, a
blended usage of terms for permanent and impermanent
dwellings, a rare positive connotation for tents and nomadism in
Israelite literature, and a certain amount of verisimilitude that
accompanies this claim. It is unlikely that someone would invent a
tent-dwelling heritage were it not true. Extra-biblical textual
evidence of Bronze Age seminomadic tent-dwelling furthers the
claim, providing peoples in the right place at the right time with
the right tent-homes. Admittedly, not all Israelites were descended
from nomads. The Israelites, like most people, were
heterogeneous in origin. However, the tent-dwelling heritage, both
real and exaggerated, impacted their society to an unusual
degree.58 Even their deity lived in a tent.
This claim of a tent-dwelling heritage by the authors of the
Hebrew Bible is supported not only in historical sources, but also
through anthropological and archaeological research. This is the
subject of the following chapter.

58

Niels P. Lemche seems to be the first to have suggested the term


"polymorphous society" in reference to early Israel, in Early Israel (Leiden,
1985). William G. Dever as well subscribes to this polymorphous model,
arguing that a limited number of former pastoral nomads "came to shape the
literary tradition disproportionally" ("Cultural Continuity, Ethnicity in the
Archaeological Record," p. 31 ). For further discussion see chapter 4 below, pp.
47-59.

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CHAPTER FOUR
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS AND PASTORAL NOMADS
Recent innovations in archaeological theory
and methodology have made the excavation of
pastoral settlements increasingly feasible.
Coupled with anthropological studies of
pastoral economies, archaeology sheds new
light on early Israel. The similarities in
material culture between the lowland Canaanite
urban centers and the highland settlements has
been argued to signify a common ancestry.
Nevertheless, pastoral economies by nature
accumulate artifacts from the towns with which
they must trade for survival. This chapter
explores the archaeology of pastoral nomads.
It also examines a cemetery for nomads in
southern Jordan which dates to the early Iron
Age, as well as evidence from a survey of the
Jabal Hamrat Fidan region, which reveals 24
sites with Iron Age occupations.

This book's examination of tents in the Hebrew Bible and the


ancient Near East exemplifies the importance of an interface
between history and archaeology. While independently both offer
much to the topic, it is the conglomeration of disciplines that best
illustrates the important role that tents played in antiquity. Thus,
while the previous chapter made the historical case for ancient
Israel's tent-dwelling heritage, the present chapter explores the
archaeology of societies that inhabit tents.
Archaeological Evidence For and Against Ancient Israel's TentDwelling Heritage
Apart from the possible hapiru^iy equation, the parallels
between the Habiru, Shasu, and Merneptah's "Israel," and the
biblical "Hebrews" are of a general rather than a specific nature.
However, all three epigraphically attested groups from Southwest
Asia in the late 13th/early 12th century B.C.E. live lifestyles

48

CHAPTER FOUR

similar to those recorded in the Hebrew Bible, and they all live in
tents with a presumed pastoral economic base.
Attempts to find more specific parallels between the pastoral
nomads recorded in the Hebrew Bible and Egyptian historical
sources, however, have typically failed, as tents and encampments
by nature leave few remains.1 Still, we find indirect evidence for
the presence of nomadic peoples in the archaeological record,
including cemeteries, desert kites, cultic installations, and most
relevant to our purposes, settlement patterns and site architecture,
especially those of the Late Bronze II/Iron IA highland villages.2
The dramatic increase in population in these areas is seen by most
as archaeological evidence for the presence of early Israel.3
Within these highland settlements, houses are typically placed one
next to the other with their outer walls forming an elliptical
defense-wall, a shape shared by many seminomadic Bedouin
camps.4 Between the houses is an elliptical courtyard in which to
1
Contrast Israel Finkelstein's view that ". . . groups that practice
subsistence economy based on hunting-gathering or on animal-husbandryand
migrate in search of food, water and good pasturedo not leave traceable
remains" (Israel Finkelstein and A. Perevolotsky, "Processes of Sedentarization
and Nomadization in the History of Sinai and the Negev," BASOR 279 [1990]:
p. 68), with that of Steven A. Rosen: "It is possible not only to find the remains
of such nomads, but also to reconstruct their lifeways and to place them in
historical context" ("Nomads in Archaeology: A Response to Finkelstein and
Perevolotsky," BASOR 287 [1992]: pp. 75-85). On improved methodology and
the increasing feasibility of finding nomads and tent camps in the material
record, see Roger Cribb, Nomads in Archaeology (Cambridge, 1991).
2
These include the highland areas of Galilee, Samaria, the northern Negev,
and Benjamin, as well as central and northern Transjordan. The greatest
concentration, however, is in tribal areas of Manasseh and Ephraim (cf. Genesis
48). See Israel Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement
(Jerusalem, 1988), who estimates the highland population to be 51,000 based
on 45 persons per settled hectare; and David C. Hopkins, "Pastoralists in Late
Bronze Age Palestine: Which Way Did They Go?" BA 56 (1993): pp. 200-11.
3
E.g., Israel Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement. Cf.
Dever's term, "proto-Israel."
4
Claude R. Conder records that 19th century Bedouin camps placed the tents
side-by-side to enclose animals (Tent Work in Palestine, 2.275). On Bedouin
tents placed side-by-side for defensive purposes, see Finkelstein, Living on the
Fringe, p. 47, for bibliography. Compare, however, Tel Masos, in which the
houses' entrances face outward, indicating that defense was not the prime
motive. Note too the disagreement between Finkelstein and his field supervisor
Zvi Lederman over the context of the oval outline at 'Izbet Sartah, in "Nomads
They Never Were: A Reevaluation of Izbet Sarta'," Abstracts, AAR/SBL 1990, p.
238.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS

49

pen livestock, another feature common to pastoral camps.5


Elliptical villages are a widely-attested indicator of a seminomadic
lifestyle, existing in Africa, Asia, and North America.6 Thus, the
elliptical village pattern popular in the highland area lends
support to the biblical assertion that prior to settlement, ancient
Israel occupied tent-camps.
However, archaeology has also provided the major objection to
the biblical claim of a seminomadic heritage: the ceramic profile
of highland sites associated with early Israel is similar to that of
the Canaanite urban lowlands.7 Nevertheless, the assemblages are
not identical: collar-rim jars are proportionately much more
abundant in the highland settlements, and Philistine bichrome
ware that is popular in the lowland continues to be extremely rare
in the highlands.8 Even where the assemblages do correspond,
ethnoarchaeological studies have revealed that nomadic groups
living in urban fringes typically possess many of the same items
as their settled neighbors due to trade and exchange, even though
they lead very different lifestyles.9
5

Israel Finkelstein, Living on the Fringe, p. 48.


See Kent V. Flannery, "The Origins of the Village as a Settlement Type i n
Mesoamerica and the Near East," Man, Settlement, and Urbanism, Peter J. Ucko,
Ruth Tringham, and G. W. Dimbleby, eds. (London, 1972): pp. 23-53. Elliptical
and circular camps in some areas are referred to by Arabic duwwar "circle" (Israel
Finkelstein, Living on the Fringe, p. 47). For North America, see Reginald
Laubin and Gladys Laubin, The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction and Use
(Norman, 1977): pp. 293 - 300. In Africa, note the study of the recently
sedentarized Shuwa Bedouin, in Augustin Holl and Thomas Levy, "From the Nile
Valley to the Chad Basin: Ethnoarchaeology of Shuwa Arab Settlements," BA
56:4 (1993): pp. 166-79. The notion of rectangular settlements as sedentary and
elliptical as nomadic is oversimplified, however; some rectangular shapes are
manifest also in pastoral camps (Finkelstein, Living on the Fringe, pp. 46-49).
7
The highland remains from 'Izbet Sartah and the lowland urban center of
Gezer dominate this discussion. See Israel Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the
Israelite Settlement, and 'Izbet Sartah (Oxford, 1986), and William G. Dever's
reviews in "Archaeological Data on the Israelite Settlement," BASOR 284
(1991): pp. 77-90.
8
William G. Dever writes that bichrome ware is unattested at clzbet Sartah,
Shilo and Ebal ("Cultural Continuity, Ethnicity in the Archaeological Record
and the Question of Israelite Origins," Eretz-Israel 24, Avraham Malamat
Volume [1993]: p. 27*). Bichrome ware has been found in small quantities at
Nasbeh, Bethel, and Hirbet et-Tubeqa.
9
Michael B. Rowton's term "enclosed nomadism" is apt at describing such
an existence. See "Enclosed Nomadism," JESHO 17 (1974): pp. 1-30;
"Economic and Political Factors in Ancient Nomadism," Nomads and Sedentary
6

50

CHAPTER FOUR

The highland settlers' knowledge of farming techniques,


especially terracing, has likewise been cited to support their urban
origins.10 William G. Dever in particular has claimed that the
occupants of these highland villagers were not recently settled
nomads, but experienced farmers.11 However, history is full of
examples in which former seminomadic peoples in the process of
sedentarization are capable farmers. Pastoralism does not rule out
farming, as crops play a large role in the lives of many nomads.12
For example, early Nabataeans practiced extensive fanning, as did
their predecessors in Edom.13
Dever further claims that the ancient Israelites were fully aware
they originated in Canaanite urban centers, citing Ezek 16:3:
"Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your
father was an Amorite, your mother a Hittite."14 However, Dever
People (Mexico City, 1981): pp. 25-36. It must also be noted that cultural
adaptations, like biological adaptations, can occur rather abruptly on the
archaeological time scale. We should not expect to find evidence of the
transition. See Anatoly M. Khazanov, Nomads and the Outside World (Madison,
1994); "Pastoralists in the Contemporary World: The Problem of Survival,"
Changing Nomads in a Changing World, Jospeh Ginat and Anatoly M.
Khazanov, eds. (Portland, 1998): pp. 7-23; and Thomas E. Levy and Augustin F.
C. Holl, "Israelite Settlement Processes: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives," paper presented at the World Archaeology
Congress (New Delhi, 1994): publication forthcoming.
10
William G. Dever, "Cultural Continuity, Ethnicity in the Archaeological
Record and the Question of Israelite Origins," p. 27*. On Iron Age terracing, see
Oded Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Palestine (Winona Lake, 1987): pp. 1518.
11
William G. Dever, "Cultural Continuity, Ethnicity in the Archaeological
Record and the Question of Israelite Origins," pp. 22-33*.; "Will the Real Israel
Please Stand Up?" Part I, BASOR 297 (1995): pp. 61-80; Part II, BASOR 298
(1995): pp. 37-58.
12
Kenneth W. Russell, Ecology and Energetics of Early Food Production in
the Near East and North Africa, University of Utah Dissertation (1986): p. 372.
Russell also notes the reverse, where farmers keep herds of livestock.
13
OnNabataean farming innovations and competency, see Avraham Negev,
Nabataean Archaeology Today (New York, 1986): pp. 104-05; Philip C.
Hammond, The Nabataeans: Their History, Culture and Archaeology
(Gothenberg, 1973): pp. 72-73. On Edomite agriculture, see Ernst A. KnaufBelleri, "Edom: The Social and Economic History," You Shall Not Abhor an
Edomite For He is Your Brother (Atlanta, 1995): pp. 96-99.
14
William G. Dever, "Cultural Continuity, Ethnicity in the Archaeological
Record and the Question of Israelite Origins," pp. 22-33* (esp. 31*); "Will the
Real Israel Please Stand Up?" Part 1, pp. 61-80; Part 2, pp. 37-58. Ezek 16:45
contains a similar passage.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS

51

fails to mention that the addressee is not collective Israel, but


rather the city of Jerusalem. Thus it is unclear whether Ezekiel
names Jerusalem as a metonym for contemporary Israel, or
whether Ezekiel is recalling Jerusalem's Jebusite heritage. The
latter seems likely, given the close connections between Hittites,
Canaanites, Amorites, and Jebusites.15 Hence, Ezekiel is
admonishing the current inhabitants of Jerusalem for practicing
the same idolatries as the original pagan inhabitants.16
Whether or not Dever is correct in assuming ancient Israel
situated their ancestors in urban Canaan, the similarities in
material culture and agricultural sophistication shared by the
highland villages with the urban centers have led many
archaeologists to support the Peasant Revolt model of Israelite
origins.17 Yet this theory, in which the repressed peasant farmers
rebel against their taxing Canaanite overlords, too heavily relies
upon 19th century Marxist ideas to the exclusion of socioeconomic factors involving the anthropology of seminomadic
pastoralists and urban centers.18 The peasant revolt model,
moreover, fails to account for the biblical claim of a seminomadic
lifestyle. Certainly no peasant in 16th-century Germany or 20thcentury Russia would have invented a fictitious tent-dwelling
heritage. It is clear from the Hebrew Bible, an ethno-historical
document, that Israelite mythology and tradition place their origin
in pastoral nomadism of some form, while there is nothing in the
biblical text to point to a peasant revolt.
15
E.g. Gen 10:15-16; see Moshe Greenberg, Ezekiel, AB 22 (Garden City,
NY, 1983): p. 274.
16
It is unclear if "Amorite" in Ezek 16:3, 45 means an urban-Canaanite or a
pastoral nomad. For a discussion of the Amorite link to a pastoral nomadic
economy, see George E. Mendenhall, "Amorites," ABD I, pp. 199-202.
17
First proposed by George E. Mendenhall, "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine," BA 25 (1962): pp. 66-87, and later supported by Norman K. Gottwald,
The Tribes ofYahweh (New York, 1979).
18
See Manfred Weippert's comparison of Mendenhall's proposed revolt to
the German Peasants' Revolt in the 16th century (The Settlement of the Israelite
Tribes in Palestine [Naperville, Illinois, 1971]: p. 59), and Niels P. Lemche's
review of Gottwald's theory in "Israel, History of (Archaeology and the
'Conquest')," ABD III, pp. 539-45. Note too MendenhalFs assertion that
Merneptah's stele refers to a peasant uprising ("The Hebrew Conquest of
Palestine," pp. 66-87). For the best refutations of Mendenhall, see Niels P.
Lemche, Early Israel (Leiden, 1985), and Baruch Halpern, The Emergence of
Israel in Canaan (Chico, 1983): pp. 50-63.

52

CHAPTER FOUR

The best theory of Israelite Settlement to date appears to be the


Symbiosis model initially proposed by Volkmar Fritz.19 It
accounts for the polymorphous nature of earliest Israel. Not only
did seminomads maintain contact with urban centers prior to
sedentarization, but the two groups continued to coexist after the
former gradually abandoned their migrations, and at times former
city-dwellers and seminomads even lived within the same villages.
This is a widely documented characteristic of the interaction
between sedentarized and pastoral peoples.20 Certainly Dever is
correct when stating "urbanites, rural agriculturalists, and pastoral
nomads were all involved in the early Iron I colonization of the
hill country." 21 However, the proportions of each element are
disputed. Ancient Israel was composed of some farmers and some
urbanites, but mostly of former pastoralists, with a heritage of
tent-dwelling.22 Lawrence E. Stager has shown in the "Song of
Deborah" how the different tribes had different economic
foundations (farmers, herders, and maritime traders).23 That is
why they did not all answer Deborah's war-cry. As one of the
earliest poems in the Hebrew Bible (c. 1150-1100 B.C.E.),24 it
lends support to the multi-economic nature of "tribal" societies
in Palestine at the time. To deny the tent-dwelling heritage
claimed in the Hebrew Bible is required by neither the artifactual
nor the textual evidence.
19
Volkmar Fritz's self-designated "Symbiosis model" modifies Alt, Noth,
and Weippert's Peaceful Infiltration
Model, combining
periods of
sedentarization with reversion to nomadism, and the coexistence of formernomads with those of urban heritage. However, the model itself remains
underdeveloped, limited to a few paragraphs at the end of Fritz's "Conquest or
Settlement? The Early Iron Age in Israel," BA 50 (1987): pp. 84-100.
20
Anatoly Khazanov, Nomads and the Outside World, pp. 202-27.
21
"Israelite Origins and the 'Nomadic Ideal': Separating Fact from Fiction,"
Mediterranean Peoples in Transition, Fss. Trude Dothan (Jerusalem, 1998): p.
228.
22
Contrast Robert B. Coote and Daniel R. Ord's notion that the Judean upper
class of the Hebrew Bible are analogous to Bedouin sheiks ruling a peasantry a la
Jordan (The Bible's First History [Philadelphia, 1989]. Coote and Ord believe
nomads are the minority, but are culturally and politically dominant.
23
Lawrence E. Stager, "Archaeology, Ecology, and Social History: Background Themes to the Song of Deborah," VTSup 49 (1987): pp. 221-34; "The
Song of Deborah," BAR 15 (1989): pp. 50-64.
24
David Noel Freedman, "Early Israelite Poetry and Historical Reconstructions," Symposia (Cambridge, MA, 1979): pp. 88-96.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS

53

Houses from Tent-Prototypes: The Evolution of Architecture


Some scholars believe the four-room house, which remains one of
the most popular criteria in identifying an Israelite presence at
various sites, evolved from tent prototypes.25 However, the
association between the four-room house and Israelite ethnicity
has been diminished. While four-room houses do in fact cluster in
highland areas with known Iron Age Israelite settlements, the
discovery of four-room houses in Iron Age Transjordan as well as
in contexts dated to the Late Bronze Age have diminished their
credibility as an absolute index of Israelite ethnicity.26 While the
Late Bronze Age context of the four-room house has been used
to discredit an evolution from a tent prototype, there were many

25

For the four-room house as an Israelite feature and the dominant houseform in ancient Israel, see Yigal Shiloh, "The Four-room House, Its Situation
and Function in the Israelite City," IEJ 20 (1970): p. 180; Ehud Netzer,
"Domestic Architecture in the Iron Age," The Architecture of Ancient Israel,
Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, eds. (Jerusalem, 1992): pp. 193-201;
John S. Holladay, Jr., "Four-Room House," EANE II (New York, 1997): pp. 33742. Note the more recent correlation between the Iron Age central hill country
and Transjordanian four-room houses and collar-rim jars in C. Chang-Ho, Jr., "A
Note on the Iron Age Four-Room House in Palestine," Or 66 (1997): pp. 387413. Note also the correlation between this architectural form and biblical
notions of kinship in Lawrence E. Stager, "The Archaeology of the Family in
Ancient Israel," BASOR 260 (1985): pp. 1-35. Those arguing for the evolution
from a tent to the four-room house include: Aharon Kempinski, "Tel Masos,"
Expedition 20 (1978): pp. 29-37; Ze'ev Herzog, Beer-Sheba II (Tel Aviv, 1984):
pp. 75-77; Israel Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement, p.
257; Kenneth W. Scharr, "The Architectural Traditions of Building 23A/13 at
Tell Beit Mirsim," SJOT 2 (1991): pp. 75-91; Volkmar Fritz, "The Israelite
'Conquest' in the Light of Recent Excavations at Khirbet el-Meshash," BASOR
241 (1981): pp. 61-73. However, Fritz has now abandoned this theory (personal
communication), due to the LB context.
26
E.g., Tell el-'Umeiri has a four-room house dating to the LB II and early
Iron I (Larry G. Herr, "The Iron Age at Tell el-'Umeiri," Institute of Archaeology
Newsletter 15, 1 [Philadelphia, 1995]); a similar house from Bethel also dates to
the 13th century B.C.E. (James L. Kelso, The Excavations of Bethel, AASOR 39
[Cambridge, 1968]: pi. 4a); similarly, a four-room house from the LB II exists at
Tell el-Fukhar (Magnus Ottosson, "The Iron Age of Northern Jordan," VTSup 50
[1993]: pp. 97-99) and another LB II exemplar at Batashi. However, these finds
do not invalidate the four-room house criterion. Biblical tradition places
Jacob/Israel in Canaan from the onset of the patriarchal period, and many may
have experienced neither bondage in Egypt nor an Exodus. It is unlikely that all
of the Israelites left Canaan (on both sides of the Jordan River) in the 17th
century B.C.E. for Egypt, and only returned after 1250 B.C.E. with the Exodus.

54

CHAPTER FOUR

tent-dwellers in the area during the Late Bronze Age.27 The issue
here is not the architectural transfer from house to tent as a means
of identifying ethnicity; rather, the move is linked to changes in
economy, namely pastoralism becoming increasingly sedentarized.
There are indeed examples of features of impermanent structures being incorporated in permanent architecture. For example,
the sedentarization of many Bedouin has led to domestic
architecture in which the form and function parallel their former
tent dwellings.28 So too early Nabataean urban architecture is said
to have evolved from tents and camps.29 The architecture of
Persian stone palaces of the 15th century C.E. is frequently
modeled on the form of ornate tents.30 In Mongolia, many
buildings resemble yurts in stone.31 Some have even argued that
the use of the dome in architecture is an attempt to imitate a tentroof, just as decorated tiles adorning various buildings' exteriors
seem to mirror designs woven in fabric.32 So, while there are cases
in which aspects of permanent buildings are based on tentprototypes, it remains unclear whether or not the four-room house
evolved from a tent.
Missing Tents in the Material Record: The Case From Qumran
The problems associated with tents in the archaeological record
are made apparent by the excavations at Qumran. Here the lack of
stone buildings in relation to the large cemetery and the remains
of tent-poles have created a controversy regarding the degree to
which tents were used by the Essenes.

27
C. Chang-Ho, Jr., "A Note on the Iron Age Four-Room House in
Palestine," pp. 387-413, and verbally from Volkmar Fritz. On LB tent-dwellers,
see above, pp. 40-44.
28
Avshalom Shmueli, Nomadism About to Cease (Tel Aviv, 1980): pp. 80,
154-55; further references listed in Israel Finkelstein, Living on the Fringe, p.
46 n. 7.
29
Avraham Negev, Nabatean Archaeology Today (New York, 1986): p. 105.
30
Bernard O'Kane, "From Tents to Pavilions," Ars Orientalis 23 (1993): pp.
249-68.
31
A personal communication from Anatoly Khazanov.
32
See p. 40 n. 36.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS

55

Five wooden poles, two with forked endings, were discovered in


Cave 17 along with pottery characteristic of Qumran.33 The
preservation of such poles is remarkable, as even in Qumran's dry
climate, virtually all wooden artifacts have completely decayed.34
All five poles measured about 1.5 meters in length, the longest
being 1.75 meters. Since they were found in an uninhabitable
rock-crevice, de Vaux is probably correct in surmising these were
tent-poles stored within the cave. The associated pottery consists
of a lamp, a bowl with a lid, a cooking pot, and a jugletvessels
likely to be utilized along with the tent on a journey.
Despite these limited remains, the use of tents by the
inhabitants of Qumran has become a much-debated topic due
mostly to an absence of evidence. The relatively few fixed
structures at Qumran have caused some scholars to theorize that
the population was quite small, between 30 to 50 people.35 Others
claim the population was larger, between 100 to 200; the
community supposedly inhabited tents, not stone houses.36
However, any speculations on the use of tent-homes by the
Qumranites, other than their use on journeys, are just
thatspeculations. Tents by nature leave very little for the
archaeological record, and the extent to which they were
employed at settlements such as Qumran cannot be determined.
Tent Homes and Nomadism in the Early Iron Age: New Evidence
From the Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project Cemetery and Survey
The interface of textual history with the archaeological record is
more problematic in areas in which nomadism is assumed to have
33
Roland de Vaux, "Exploration de la falaise de Qumran," in Maurice Baillet,
Jozef T. Milik, and Roland de Vaux, DJD 3 (1962): pp. 16-17; plate 7.3.
34
E.g., many nails remain from decayed wooden coffins. See Solomon H.
Steckoll, "Preliminary Excavation Report in the Qumran Cemetery," Revue de
Qumran 6 (1968): pp. 323-44.
35
E.g. Joseph Patrich, in "The Enigma of Qumran," BAR 24:1 (Jan/Feb
1998): p. 81.
36
Magen Broshi and Hanan Eshel, "How and Where Did the Qumranites
Live?" The Provo International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Leiden,
1997); "The Archaeological Remains on the Marl Terrace Around Qumran,"
Qadmoniot 114 (1997): pp. 129-33; cf. Joseph Patrich, "Was There an External
Residential Area at Qumran?" Qadmoniot 115 (1998): pp. 66-67, and the
response by Broshi and Eshel, p. 67.

56

CHAPTER FOUR

played an even larger role than in formative Israel. Such is the


case with ancient Edom. To date, there is a paucity of
archaeological material from southern Jordan that predates the 7th
century B.C.E., despite various historical sources from both Egypt
and the Hebrew Bible describing Edom/Seir in the Iron I-IIB
periods (1200-720 B.C.E.).37 This is probably due to a
combination of three factors: 1) the nature of nomadic societies,
in which material possessions hinder mobility, 2) the need for
more systematic archaeological field surveys and 3) the need for
additional large-scale excavations at Iron Age sites in Edom.
Nevertheless, two recent studies under the auspices of the Jabal
Hamrat Fidan Regional Archaeology Project (UCSD - Bristol)
have produced significant data concerning the late Iron I and Iron
II periods in the area of Edom depicted in Plate 5.38
First, in 1997 the Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project under the
direction of Thomas E. Levy and Russell B. Adams excavated 62
graves containing the skeletal remains of 87 individuals at a
cemetery (WFD 40)39 along the north bank of the Wadi Fidan.40
The cemetery is quite large, covering 17,600 m2 with an
estimated minimum of 3,500 individuals.41 The grave form was
standardized (Plate 6).
37

See Kenneth A. Kitchen, "The Egyptian Evidence on Ancient Jordan," pp.


21-34; Piotr Bienkowski, "The Beginning of the Iron Age in Southern Jordan: A
Framework," Early Edom and Moab (Sheffield, 1992): pp. 1-12; and John R.
Bartlett, "Biblical Sources for the Early Iron Age in Jordan," Early Edom and
Moab (Sheffield 1992): pp. 13-20. However, Bartlett dates Exodus 15 to the 10th
century based on verse 17's reference to Yahweh's rotf, which he argues refers to
the Temple in Jerusalem. The word rou may refer to Yahweh's throne, (William
H. C. Propp, Exodus 1-18, pp. 542-43) and despite Bartlett's hesitancy, there is
nothing to preclude the word from referring to Yahweh's Tabernacle. David N.
Freedman presents a solid argument for an early 12th century B.C.E. date for the
Song of the Sea ("Early Israelite History in the Light of Early Israelite Poetry,"
Unity and Diversity [Baltimore, 1975]: pp. 3-35).
38
For further discussion of the following data, see Michael M. Homan,
Russell B. Adams, and Thomas E. Levy, "The Iron Age in the Jabal Hamrat Fidan
(Jordan), Wadi Faynan Conference Publication, forthcoming.
39
Previous publications used the abbreviation WF for both the Wadi Fidan
and the Wadi Faynan, resulting in confusion; thus, WFD is now used for the
Fidan, while WF is reserved for the Faynan.
40
Initial publication in Thomas E. Levy, Russell B. Adams, and Rula Shafiq,
"The Jebel Hamrat Fidan Project: Excavations at the Wadi Fidan 40 Cemetery,
Jordan (1997)," Levant 31 (1999): pp. 299-314.
41
Levy et al., "The Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project," p. 298.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS

57

Each grave was marked on the surface by a circle (typically


1.5-2 m in diameter) of dolorite stones. Just over one meter below
the surface a series of large capstones were found sealed with a
pise substance. Beneath the capstones, the burial was interred
within a stone-lined cist; 90% of the burials and cists were aligned
on a north-south axis.42 The preservation of these remains was
excellent, and included in one case a lung fragment and a human
hair dyed red.43 The skeletons showed no immediate evidence of
pathology. Calibrated radiometric dating suggests a date ranging
from 1015-845 B.C.E., approximately at the transition from the
Iron I to the Iron II period.44 Many of the burials were wrapped
in two layers before being interred, the innermost consisting of
textile, the outer a goat-skin shroud, which covered the body from
head to toe.45 One burial's fecal remains contained the shells of
insect pupate, which seems to suggest that the corpse remained
unburied long enough for insects to plant their eggs. Material
goods primarily consisted of an abundance of beads (N=l,317),
though also found were metal jewelry and wooden bowls
containing food offerings (one of which contained a gazelle bone
with knife marks).46 One grave (WFD 40: grave # 92) proved
particularly interesting (Plate 7). Grave 92 contained the skeleton
of an adult woman, who was buried along with five
pomegranates,47 two copper anklets, an iron bracelet, a metal
earring fragment, and a spindle whirl. Among the several beads
on her necklace was a scarab dating to the MB II (Hyksos) period,
acquired it would seem through trade or as an heirloom.48
Interestingly, there were no pottery finds associated with these
42

There was an equal distribution of sexes and ages, though infant burials
were interred just below the surface. For further details, see Levy et al., "The
Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project," pp. 296-98.
43
The hair, apparently dyed with henna, belonged to an adult woman.
Though speculative, this may relate to the etiology of Edom in Gen 25:25, in
which Edom is born "red all over like a hairy cloak."
44
Levy et al., "The Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project," p. 303.
45
Also note Isaac's ruse Gen 27:16, in which he impersonates Edom by
placing goat-skins on his arms.
46
Levy et al., "The Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project," p. 301.
47
One of the pomegranates provided a seed by which the radiometric date was
obtained.
48
For a drawing and detailed description of the scarab and its inscription, see
Levy et al., "The Jabal Hamrat Fidan Project," p. 301.

58

CHAPTER FOUR

burials. This lack of pottery, along with the nature of the buried
artifacts, coupled with the lack of early Iron Age settlements in the
area,49 seems to suggest the cemetery served a population of tentdwelling nomads, who at times inhabited the areas within the
Wadis Fidan and Fay nan. That they raised goats is indicated by
the leather shrouds found within several cists, and perhaps they
were in the area to mine copper, or at least to guard the entrance
to the mining center of Fay nan.
The second line of evidence concering the late Iron I and Iron
II periods in southern Jordan comes from the 1998 Jabal Hamrat
Fidan archaeological survey. The survey recorded 125 sites, 24 of
them dating from the Iron Age, in a small sample zone (c. 4 km2)
along the banks of the Wadi Fidan within the 240 km2 JHF
research area (Plate 8).
The survey was pedestrian, and covered an area within 500 m
of the drainage channel along a length of 4.5 km beginning at the
wadi's mouth where it debouched into the Wadi Araba.50
Prior to the survey, only two sites were known to possess Iron
Age occupations.51 The large number of Iron Age sites recorded
on the survey (N=24) were identified based primarily on
diagnostic surface pottery from the Iron II-III periods.52 As
would be expected, the majority of sites were involved in some
capacity with metallurgy, often containing hundreds of small
smelting furnaces (WFD 52a, 58, 59, 64). However, among the 24
sites, only one was found to be a settlement with architecture
(WFD 52), and it was rather small (0.14 hectares). This lack of
49
It is possible that the WFD 40 cemetery interred the inhabitants of Khirbet
al-Nahas, the nearest large-scale settlement located 4.5 km to the northeast,
though the distance and rugged terrain make this unlikley.
50
Thomas E. Levy, Russell B. Adams, et al., "Early Metallurgy, Interaction
and Social Change: The Jabal Hamrat Fidan (Jordan) Research Design and 1998
Archaeological Survey: Preliminary Report," Studies in the History and
Archaeology of Jordan VII, G. Biseh, ed. (in press). The remaining 5.5 km of the
drainage channel located within the JHF research area will be surveyed in the
summer of 2000.
51
This includes the cemetery (WFD 40) and the site Glueck misidentified as
Khirbet Hamrat Ifdan, now WFD 77 (See Russell B. Adams, "Romancing the
Stones: New Light on Glueck's 1934 Survey of Eastern Palestine as a Result of
Recent Work by the Wadi Fidan Project," Early Edom and Moab (Sheffield,
1992): pp. 177-86.
52
Thomas E. Levy, Russell B. Adams, et al., "Early Metallurgy, Interaction
and Social Change," pp. 19-20.

ARCHAEOLOGY OF TENTS

59

permanent settlements, along with the surface remains of a large


campsite (1.00 hectare) identified along the ridge overlooking the
Arabah (WFD 48; Plate 9), suggests a nomadic pastoral presence.
Some Concluding Remarks on the Archaeology of Tents
The evidence from both the cemetery (WFD 40) and the 1998
survey suggests a large nomadic population of tent-dwelling
pastoralists for this area of Edom during the Iron Age. This
corroborates ethnohistorical sources from both Egypt, recording
the presence of Shasu in Edom/Seir, and the Hebrew Bible,
recording that the Edomites were ruled by chiefs (D'EH^N), and
also inhabited tents in the early Iron Age.53 As the archaeological
discipline increasingly pays attention to campsites, the degree of
interface between history and the material record become more
productive.
The following chapter examines the use of tents by various
ancient Near Eastern militaries. It will be shown that tents played a
vital role in the campaigns of Israel and her neighbors, thus
heightening the importance of tents in the ancient Near East.

53

Exod 15:15 mentions Edomite trsi^K. On Edomite tents, see p. 30 n. 1


above.

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CHAPTER FIVE
MILITARY TENTS: AN ANCIENT TRADITION
The military has a long history of using tents
on campaigns. Throughout the ancient Near
East, tents and similar portable architecture
sheltered troops from the natural elements. The
armies of ancient Israel were no exception. A
detailed examination of the Hebrew Bible,
along with the literary and archaeological
records of Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and
Rome, illuminates the importance of tents for
ancient militaries.

That the Israelites and their neighbors used tents on military


campaigns might be expected. Throughout history, tents'
relatively low production costs and portability have ensured a
long and integral relationship with the military. By way of
example, U.S. factories had manufactured more than one million
tents by the end of 1942 to shelter American troops during the
Second World War.1 This phenomenon is not limited to the 20th
century. Martial tents housed such notables as Napoleon, Henry
VIII, Suleiman the Magnificent, Genghis Khan, Charlemagne,
Muhammad, Vespasian, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great
among others, along with their troops.2 One is nearly five times as
1

Erna Risch, "United States Army in WWII: The Technical Services," The
Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services I (1953): p. 169. For
the use of tents in WWI, see for example Thomas E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars
of Wisdom (Garden City, NY, 1926): p. 170.
2
Napoleon's tent still resides in the collection of the Mobilier National.
Over 1,000 ornate tents provided the setting for the meeting of Henry Vin and
Francis I at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 (N. Williams, "The Master of the
Royal Tents and His Records," Journal of the Society of Archivists 2 [October,
I960]: pp. 2-4). The Ottoman camp was estimated to contain 2,000 tents by P.
Rycaut, The History of the Turkish Empire From the Year 1623 to the Year 1677
(London, 1687). See also Godfrey Goodwin, A History of Ottoman Architecture
(London, 1961): pp. 107, 429. For Genghis Khan, see 'Ala-ad-Din 'Ata-Malik
Juvaini, Genghis Khan: The History of the World Conqueror (Seattle, 1958): p.
113. Einhard, Vie de Charlemagne (Paris, 1923), describes Charlemagne's tent.
Muhammad's use of tents is described in Muhammad F. Ghazi, "Remarques sur

62

CHAPTER FIVE

likely to encounter the word "tent" in a Shakespearean play with


a martial setting than in a non-martial setting, just as the noun
KXlOir] (hut) occurs more than five times as often in Homer's
Iliad as in the Odyssey.3 Searching the concordances of ancient
Near Eastern literature produces analogous results: the preeminent
context for tents in all of ancient literature is martial.4
The affinity between war and portable housing visible in other
literature remains largely absent in the Hebrew Bible, however.
This is primarily due to the text's disproportionate focus on the
Tabernacle; references to secular tents in any context are dwarfed
by comparison. This factor alone does not compensate for the
relative silence involving martial tents, however. Of the 347
examples of the word "tent" C?rm) in the Hebrew Bible, only six
are indisputably war tents.5 Moreover, not one of the six refers to
an Israelite military tent; rather, they are tents used by Israel's
enemies, be they Aramean, Babylonian, or unspecified future
invaders.6

1'armee chez les Arabes," (Ibla, 1960) and Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of
Islam (Cambridge, 1957): pp. 407-27. For Vespasian and Titus at Masada in
military tents, see Josephus, Wars, 3.79.82, and Yigael Yadin, Masada (London,
1966): pp. 219-25. See also Yann Le Bohec, The Imperial Roman Army
(London, 1994): pp. 132-33 on the form of the imperial camp. Julius Caesar and
the Roman Republic's use of tents is explored in Michel Feugere, Les Armes des
Romains (Paris, 1993): pp. 50-53, and Adrian K. Goldsworthy, The Roman
Army at War (Oxford, 1996): pp. 111-13, who cites Virgil, Aeneid 7.126-29,
where setting up the camp is the first thing Aeneas does upon arrival in Italy.
Alexander dies in a military tent according to Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History
of Alexander, 10.5-6.
3
A Shakespearean Thesaurus produced this figure. Richard III, for example,
mentions tent(s) 12 times, Troilus and Cressida 34 times, and Julius Caesar 10
times. In contrast, tent(s) is entirely absent from Romeo and Juliet and the
Tempest. Similarly, KXLOLT) occurs 83 times in the Iliad, 14 times in the
Odyssey.
4
For example, Akkadian kuStdru in CAD 8, p. 61 refers most often to the
military tents of Mesopotamian kings and to the tents of enemies, as Egyptian
im^w refers to tents of Egyptian kings and their enemies in Adolf Erman and
Hermann Grapow, Worterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache I (Leipzig, 1926): p.
81.
5
I.e. where normally non-tent-dwelling people utilize tents on a military
expedition. The word ^rm is used for a military tent four times in 2 Kgs 7:7-10,
once each in Jer 37:10 and Dan 11:45.
6
Passages such as 1 Sam 17:54 (David's tent) and Josh 7:22 (Achan's tent)
will be examined in detail below, p. 76.

MILITARY TENTS

63

However, the Israelite military certainly used temporary


shelters. In fact, while not called ^rm, military tents and huts
provide the setting for many of the Hebrew Bible's most dramatic
scenes: David placing the weapons and possibly the head of
Goliath in a tent shortly after decapitating the Philistine champion
(1 Sam 17:54); Uriah refusing David's order to return to the
comforts of his house while fellow-soldiers sleep in huts (2 Sam
11:11); military tents standing erect in the Assyrian camp just
outside of Jerusalem while Isaiah instructs Hezekiah on how best
to avoid the fate of Lachish (2 Kings 18-19); and the systematic
execution of Zedekiah's sons and his subsequent blinding likely
in Nebuchadnezzar's tent (2 Kgs 25:7). This chapter will examine
the relationship between portable housing and the military, not
only in the Hebrew Bible, but throughout the ancient Near East.
Egyptian Military Tents
The oldest known epigraphic reference to a tent pertains to an
Egyptian campaign into Nubia in the Sixth Dynasty (c. 2200
B.C.E.). The context is a letter from Pepi II to his official
Harkhuf, who served as Governor of Upper Egypt.7 Pepi II, at the
onset of his reign, has discovered that Harkhuf on a campaign to
southern Nubia has captured a dwarf renowned for his skill at
dancing. The young king orders the prize captive to be brought
to Egypt immediately, and commands Harkhuf to ensure the
dwarfs safety. Pepi further instructs,
When [the dwarf] sleeps at night appoint excellent people, who shall
sleep beside him in his tent (/w); inspect ten times a night. My
majesty desires to see this dwarf more than the gifts of Sinai and of
Punt.8

The letter from Pepi to Harkhuf is carved on the facade of Harkhuf s tomb.
For description and translation, see James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of
Egypt I (Chicago, 1906): pp. 150-154; 159-161; Edward Wente, Letters from
Ancient Egypt (Atlanta, 1990): p. 21.
8
James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt I, p. 161; Edward Wente,
Letters from Ancient Egypt, p. 21.

64

CHAPTER FIVE

Thus, literature's first reference to a tent is in the context of an


Egyptian military campaign; the association between tents and the
military has a history of nearly five millennia.
References to military tents also exist in the Middle Kingdom
story of Sinuhe. During Sinuhe's exile in Syria, he lives in a tent,
where he is challenged by a Retenu warrior.9 Having slain the
local champion, Sinuhe says, "I took what was in his tent (irri) and
stripped his encampment."10
We find the most frequent references to military tents in New
Kingdom annals, when the end of Hatshepsut's reign sparked a
revolution of Egyptian vassals in Southeast Asia. Thutmose III
(reigned 1479-1425 B.C.E. [high chronology]) initiated the first
of 17 campaigns to reassert Egyptian dominance, and it is no
coincidence that the pharaoh most renowned for campaigning
should claim the most references to tents in all of Egyptian
literature. The records of Thutmose Ill's initial expedition
provide unprecedented detail in regard to both the campaign itself
and to the battle at Megiddo against allied forces headed by the
King of Qedesh. Frequent references to tents illustrate their use in
both the Egyptian and Asian camps. Thutmose III inhabits a tent
throughout the campaign, which is said to be heavily guarded.11
Immediately following the initial battle, Egyptian forces capture
the King of Qedesh's son in his tent.12 Moreover, seven prized
tent-poles wrought with silver are among the booty secured by
Egyptian forces.13 The acquisition of these poles ultimately
distracts Thutmose's army from destroying their enemy, who fall
back behind the walls of Megiddo, necessitating a seven-month
siege to terminate the anti-Egyptian coalition. Years later,
similarly ornate tent-poles are again listed among the treasures
9
Sinuhe, 109-110. See James K. Hoffmeier, "Tents in Egypt and the Ancient
Near East," SSEA Newsletter VII.3 (1977): p. 23.
10
ANET, p. 20. See also James K. Hoffmeier, "Tents in Egypt and the
Ancient Near East," p. 23.
11
James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt II, pp. 182, 192. Miriam
Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature II (Berkeley, 1976): pp. 31-32. Note the
formula for the onset of a new day: "Awakening in [life] in the royal tent at the
town of Aruna."
12
James H. Breasted, ARE II, p. 185.
13
James H. Breasted, ARE II, p. 187. Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian
Literature II (Berkeley, 1976): pp. 33-34.

MILITARY TENTS

65

gained by marching up the Mediterranean coast, this time during


Thutmose Ill's ninth campaign. However, instead of silver, these
poles are wrought with bronze, and set with costly stones.14 Such
an ornate tent-pole is depicted in relief on a stele dating to the
reign of Horemheb (r. 1323-1295 B.C.E.; Plate lla). Here an
abundance of food and drink, as well as furniture, is prepared in
the martial tent of some high-ranking official.
Further evidence of the use of tents by ancient Near Eastern
militaries can be seen in the 19th and 20th dynasties, during the
reigns of Merneptah (r. 1213-1203 B.C.E.) and Rameses III (r.
1184-1153 B.C.E.). Merneptah's inscription at Karnak describes
his victory over the Libyans. Here we read that the tents used by
the Libyan forces are covered with leather.15 Later, Merneptah
brags about the extent of his victory, boasting that he set fire to
the Libyan camp and their leather tents.16 Merneptah's successor
Rameses III follows in the long tradition of looting enemy tents.
Rameses III defeats both Edomite and Shasu camps, claiming " I
plundered the tents of their people."17
The link between tents and the Egyptian military is most
clearly seen in the epigraphic and pictorial records of the Battle of
Qedesh.18 Like his predecessor Thutmose III, Rameses II inhabits
a tent throughout the campaign.19 In fact, it is within his royal tent
that Rameses first discovers to his horror that he has been duped
by his enemy. Egyptian records state that the pharaoh is meeting
with his princes when he receives word that his is not the only
army in the vicinity, and that the Egyptian camp is soon to be
attacked.20 Within this tent, Rameses quickly puts on his armor
and joins the fight.21 The initial panic is subsequently overcome,
14

James H. Breasted, ARE II, p. 205.


James H. Breasted, ARE III, p. 241.
16
James H. Breasted, ARE III, p. 251.
17
James H. Breasted, ARE IV, p. 201, from Papyrus Harris.
18
For detailed information on the written and pictorial records of the battle,
see Raymond O. Faulkner, "The Battle of Kadesh," Mitteilungen des deutschen
archaologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo 16 (1958): pp. 93-111; G. A.
Gaballa, Narrative in Egyptian Art (Mainz, 1976): pp. 113-19.
19
James H. Breasted, ARE III, p. 143.
20
James H. Breasted, ARE HI, pp. 147-48.
21
Raymond O. Faulkner, "The Battle of Kadesh," p. 101; James H. Breasted,
ARE III, pp. 147-48. The record does not remark on where the armor is stored,
only that Rameses is in his tent when he hurriedly dresses with his war-gear.
15

66

CHAPTER FIVE

and the Egyptian military survives one of history's most infamous


military ruses. The profound impression made by the battle is
evident from the fact that not only are the events of Qedesh
captured for posterity epigraphically in ten different places, but
they are artistically depicted on the walls of many Egyptian
monuments. Scenes of the battle exist at Abydos, Karnak, Luxor,
the Ramesseum, and Abu Simbel, while depictions of the Egyptian
camp adorn walls at Abu Simbel, Luxor, and twice at the
Ramesseum.22
These painted reliefs contain the first depictions of a military
tent known to date. The Egyptian camp is represented in a similar
fashion on all three reliefs: leather shields are set up side-by-side
along the 2:1 rectangular camp perimeter.23 The pharaoh's tent is
by far the largest structure on all the reliefs, and the entrance is in
the camp's center.
The tent itself is divided into two sections. Subjects would enter
the pharaoh's tent and be received in a 2:1 long room structure,
which immediately led to the pharaoh's square chamber. The
relief at Abu-Simbel (Plate 10) differs from the other two in that
the viewer is allowed access to events taking place inside the royal
tent's reception room. The relief shows five individuals prostrating themselves before the pharaoh's cartouche, which is
elevated and flanked by wings of two representations of Horus.
The striking similarities the pharaoh's tent and the Egyptian camp
share with the Israelite Tabernacle and courtyard will be analyzed
below.24
Other Egyptian martial tents can be seen in reliefs documenting the Battle of Qedesh. Immediately below Rameses's tent
stand three tents reserved for his princes. These, along with the
pharaoh's tent, are surrounded by a wall separating the pharaoh's
family from the rest of the camp. The number of remaining tents
22

The battle's magnitude can also be seen in the Beth-Shean Stela, Year 18,
which mentions the clash, and a Hittite version discussed by Gerhard Fecht,
"Ramses II und die Schlacht bei Qadesch," Gottinger Miszellen 80 (1984): pp.
41-50. For a bibliography of written and pictorial records, see Michael G. Hasel,
Domination and Resistance (Leiden, 1998): pp. 154-55; and G. A. Gaballa,
Narrative in Egyptian Art, p. 114.
23
For pictures of the reliefs from Luxor and the Ramesseum, see Plates 4748.
24
See pp. 111-16.

MILITARY TENTS

67

represented on the reliefs varies: four at Luxor, five at Abu


Simbel, and at least seven at the Ramesseum.25 These tents all
share the same form, consisting of two vertical walls and a curved
roof (Figure 3). The exact form and composition of these tents
remain enigmatic. It is unknown whether cloth, leather, vegetation,
or a combination were used to cover the tents. Similarly, there is
no uniform function for these tents, as might be expected. Some
appear to stable horses, some are used for food preparation, still
others to house people.

Figure 3 - Common Shape of Egyptian Tents at Qedesh

The number of tents falls well short of the number of troops


depicted on the reliefs. This may suggest that tents were reserved
for high-ranking officials, and we might speculate that shelter for
the common soldiers, if used at all, was left up to the individual to
forage and construct. Yet, this remains uncertain, and it must be
concluded that both the Egyptian pictures and texts remain silent
on the question of what housed the common soldier on military
campaigns.
One other Egyptian relief warrants mention, as it provides a
better insight into the form of Egyptian military tents. It too dates
to the reign of Rameses II, and depicts his four sons battling the
enemy before the Hittite fortified city of Zapur (Plate 1lb).
Here the walls are not vertical as are those representing the
camp at Qedesh. Rather, they slant upward, again culminating in a
curved roof. Each has a rather large opening, through which can
be seen a large support pole. These tents in many ways resemble
the Native American Tipi, except the support poles of the
Egyptian tent do not extend beyond the fabric roof.26
25

The relief at the Ramesseum is cut off in the upper right corner; seven
represents the lowest possible count.
26
The shape of these tents lends support to a theory of Frank M. Cross, Jr.,
that Ugaritic dd designates a breast-shaped tent (F. M. Cross, Jr., CMHE, p. 55

68

CHAPTERHVE

Assyrian Military Tents


Assyria's suppression of the revolt spearheaded by Hezekiah in
701 B.C.E. is one of the most widely documented campaigns in
ancient Near Eastern history. Sennacherib's invasion, brutal
destruction of several fortified cities, and ultimate withdrawal prior
to Jerusalem's full capitulation are attested in both Israelite and
Assyrian written sources.27 The credibility of these accounts has
received archaeological confirmation, as dozens of sites reveal a
massive destruction level dated to the close of the eighth century
B.C.E.28 Moreover, at Nineveh were excavated several large reliefs
documenting Sennacherib's campaign, including pictures of
Assyrian military tent-camps (Plates 12-14).
Sennacherib's camps, unlike those of the Egyptians, are oval in
shape.29 Of like form are the camps of Sennacherib's predecessor
Sargon II (Plate 15) and his successor Ashurbanipal (Plate 16).30
A large central road runs through the camp's elongated axis. The
form of the tents invariably falls into one of two categories.
The first category involves simple forked frame tents, with a tall
central pole flanked by two slanted supports (Plate 17).
These tents are always shown in cross section, allowing the
viewer to witness events transpiring behind the tent's walls. Inside
the tent, a soldier returns home and is given a drink by one
servant, while the other servant prepares the bed. From the tentframes often hang a horn, water container, and cooking
implements. Bed preparation, cooking, and eating are the three
n. 43).
27
See 2 Kings 18-19, Isaiah 36-39. The Assyrian account comes from the
Prism of Sennacherib, and is translated in ANET, pp. 287-88. Compare also
Herodotus's version of Iav(XXOCpl|}OV m Histories, 2.141. For a comparison of
the Assyrian and biblical accounts, see Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmor, //
Kings, AB 11 (Garden City, 1988): pp. 246-51.
28
See Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmor, II Kings, pp. 223-51. Note
especially Lachish and Ekron, both with massive destruction levels dated to 701
B.C.E. Concerning Lachish, see Olga Tufnell, Lachish III: The Iron Age (Oxford,
1953); for Ekronsee Seymour Gitin and Trude Dothan, "The Rise and Fall of
Ekron of the Philistines," BA 50 (1987): pp. 197-222.
29
Note also the likelihood that Israelite camps were oval in shape, based on
the Hebrew word for camp, nana, derived from the root run, meaning "bent,"
"curved," or "round."
30
For further depictions of Assyrian oval camps, see David Ussishkin, The
Conquest of Lachish by Sennacherib (Tel Aviv, 1982): p. 93, and John M.
Russell, Sennacherib's Palace, fig. 34.

MILITARY TENTS

69

dominant activities occurring inside these tents. The form of these


fork-framed tents may have been borrowed from the Arabs, as the
palace of Ashurbanipal contains a relief showing identically
constituted Arab tents engulfed in flames (Plate 18).
The form of the second type of Assyrian military tent remains
enigmatic. These are always shown from the outside; the viewer is
never offered a glimpse behind the curtains (Plate 14).
They appear more elaborate than the fork-framed tents. One
side is always higher than the other, often with a midsection that
has no roof, through which people converse at times. Albrecht Alt
has claimed that the common soldiers camped in the fork-framed
tents, with the sides open to allow the penetration of breezes, while
the other structure, which Alt identifies as a booth, is reserved for
royalty.31
The Assyrians, like the Egyptians, participated in looting the
richly decorated structures of enemy forces. Merodach-Baladan
erected his royal tent and fortified camp, only to have it taken by
the forces of Sargon II.32 The golden tent (kul-tar hurasi) of NurAdad meets a similar fate.33
Canaanite Military Tents
Two passages in the Ugaritic corpus suggest the use of tents on
military expeditions by Late Bronze Canaanite armies. The first
comes from the Legend of Aqhat, where, following her brother's
murder at the hands of Yatpan, Pughat seeks revenge. She dons
the array of a warrior and then sets out to track down the soldier
Yatpan. By nightfall, "Pughat arrives at the tents" (mgy[t] pgt
lahlm).34 However, it is not clear to whom the tents belong. Either
31
Albrecht Alt, "Zelte und Hiitten," Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des
Volkes Israel III (Munchen, 1959): pp. 233-242. Similarly, Nigel Stillman and
Nigel Tallis, Armies of the Ancient Near East (Worthington, Sussex, 1984): pp.
202-03, claim that the reliefs show two types of tent: the king's tent which
opens only on the roof, and the officers' tents which are open-faced to catch the
wind.
32
Hugo Winckler, Die Keilschrifttexte Sargons (Leipzig, 1889): pp. 34:129;
Arthur G. Lie, The Inscriptions of Sargon II (Paris, 1929): p. 413.
33
KAH II 84:71. See CAD VIII (1971): p. 601 for further references. See also
Israel Eph'al, The Ancient Arabs (Leiden, 1982): pp. 151-53.
34
CAT 1.19.IV.49-50; ANET, 155.

70

CHAPTER FIVE

they belong to the encampment of Yatpan, or else Pughat has


brought them with her as part of her own military retinue. The
second passage comes from the Kirta epic, where Kirta prepares
for his journey to secure a bride by sacrificing a lamb and a bird
in a tent (hmf).35 Thus it seems Kirta will be traveling with a tent
when he besieges his bride's city.
Diodorus of Sicily reports on the much later use of portable
housing by Punic soldiers. A Carthaginian military camp contains
a sacred tent and altar, reminiscent of the Tabernacle, as well as
several other OKf|VO(l, although they more strongly resemble
"booths," as they catch fire due to their reed and straw
construction.36 Tents are also used by Phoenicians in nautical
expeditions, as shown by Skylax's Periplus?1
Military Tents from Greece, Persia, and Rome
For pre-Classical Greece, huts, rather than tents, appear to be the
main shelter of armies. Homer recounts in the Iliad that the
Achaian forces encamp in "booths" (KXlOCXL) before Troy's
walls. These structures are inhabited by the Greek nobility; the
text is characteristically silent regarding the common troops'
dwellings.38 Nevertheless, a great deal of information regarding
the form of these booths can be found in a detailed description of
Achilleus's KXlOLF|:
But when they came to the lofty KXLOLf)V of Peleus' son, which the
Myrmidons had built for their king, hewing beams of pine, and they
had roofed it from above with shaggy reeds gathered from the
meadows; and around it they made for him, their king, a great
courtyard with poles set close together, and the gate . . .
Iliad XXIV:448-453
35

CAT 1.14.III.159-62.
20.65.1. Note the same motif from Assyrian annals, in which the god
Ashur drives back Assyria's enemies by burning their camps. See ANET, pp.
274-301, and Alan R. Millard, "Mesopotamia and the Bible," Aram 1:1 (1989):
p. 27.
37
Skylax, 112. See John P. Brown, "Peace Symbolism in Ancient Military
Vocabulary," VT 21 (1971): p. 22.
38
Achilleus inhabits a KXlOLr) in the Iliad IX: 107, 663; XXIV:448; Agamemnon in IX:226 and 669, where the word appears in the plural. Patroklos has
his wounds tended in his KXLOIT| in XII: 1. While the dwellings of the common
troops are not specified, they are said to inhabit a camp (OTpOtTCK); see X:66.
36

MILITARY TENTS

71

There is no evidence in Homer that a KXtOLT] is ever covered with


fabric or animal skins, which would render it a tent in the proper
sense of the word.
Homer's silence regarding true military tents is not the only
factor suggesting their absence in pre-Classical Greece. The Greek
word for tent, OKT)Vr|, does not appear in literature until
immediately after the Persian invasion.39 The term is first
employed by Aeschylus in 472 B.C.E., when the chorus in The
Persians exclaims their surprise that many famous Persian soldiers
did not return in Xerxes's mobile tents (OKfjVOa?
TpOXr|Xo(TOLOLV). 40 Aeschylus seems to have in mind something
more akin to a covered wagon, which offered shade to the
nobility, than a standard tent. In any event, it is clear that a tent of
some form was attributed to the Persian army; its impact may be
judged from the frequent references to Persian tents in later Greek
literature. In fact, Athenians claimed that Pericles' odeion below
the Acropolis was modelled after Xerxes' tent.41
Much more information concerning the Persian use of military
tents can be gleaned from Herodotus and Xenophon. Herodotus
reports that Xerxes reviews his naval forces in a Sidonian ship
equipped with a golden tent (OKF|Vr| XpUO6T|).42 Herodotus also
says that the Persian army sleeps in the open air, while Xerxes
inhabits a tent.43 Xenophon, however, records that all Persian
soldiers inhabit tents, alongside their officers, a procedure that
Xenophon claims builds camaraderie and military uniformity.44
Xenophon also provides data on the formation of Persian
encampments: the camp radiates outward from Cyrus the Great's
tent, which was placed in the middle of camp facing east.45
39
The etymology of OKnvf) is much debated, but may relate to Semitic Skn.
See above, p. 11 n. 23.
40
Aeschylus, Persians, 1000. See Oscar Broneer, "The Tent of Xerxes and the
Greek Theater," University of CA Publications in Classical Archaeology 1:12
(1944): pp. 305-12.
41
As pointed out by Mark Munn. See Plutarch, Life of Pericles, 13.5. John
Travlos, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens (New York, 1980): p. 387,
claims that only the odeion's exterior is a tent imitation, though Plutarch
suggests the interior as well is modelled after Xerxes' tent.
42
Herodotus, Histories, VII: 100.
43
Ibid., VII: 119.
44
Xenophon, Cyropaedia, II.i.25-28; IV.ii.ll.
45
Ibid., VIII.v.3. The central placement is for protection, as the remaining

72

CHAPTER FIVE

According to Xenophon, Cyrus's military tent is quite large,


capable of entertaining 100 people.46 Cyrus's tent not only serves
for lodging and dining, but Xenophon records the trial of a
Persian traitor in the monarch's tent. There the traitor is
interrogated and condemned, although he is executed in another
man's tent.47 The royal guard naturally camps in Cyrus's
immediate proximity; to the left of Cyrus's tent are placed the
tents of the cooks and pack animals, while the bakers and horses
are placed on the right.48
Herodotus reports that the Persian troops have the task of
dismantling, transporting, and reassembling Xerxes's tent when
they arrive at a new camp.49 Xenophon claims that the Persian
military tents are covered with animal skins.50
The splendor of the Persian military tents can be seen in the
events that transpire immediately following the destruction of
Athens in 480 B.C.E. The Persians under Mardonius fall back to
their walled encampment. When Athenian soldiers ultimately
penetrate these fortifications, the first thing they do is plunder the
tent of Mardonius, which contains a spectacular bronze manger.51
Moreover, the spoils of the Persian camp include tents adorned
with gold and silver.52 Similarly, when a Persian-allied Armenian
camp falls to the Greeks, Xenophon lists as war-booty the
Armenian tents.53
Some insight into Persian military tents is offered by one of the
world's oldest cookbooks, The Deipnosophistae by Athenaeus,
tents provide a buffer should the camp be attacked. The orientation toward the
rising sun is intriguing, given parallels to the Tabernacle and other tents of the
Middle East (see p. 113), and the fact that the official religion of Persia would
soon become light-worship.
46
Xenophon, Cyropaedia, II.i.30; II.iii.21-22.
47
Xenophon, Anabasis, I.vi.5-11.
48
Xenophon, Cyropaedia, VIII.v.2-5, 8-14. The significance of this arrangement is unknown. The proximity of culinary tents to the king's is confirmed
by Assyrian reliefs. The separation of horses from other pack animals seems
arbitrary, and perhaps Xenophon is reinforcing his theme of Persian military
precision.
49
Herodotus, Histories, VII: 119.
50
Xenophon, Anabasis, I.v.10. See also II.iv.28, where inflated skins are
employed to cross the Tigris river.
51
Herodotus, Histories, IX:70.
52
Ibid., IX:80.
53
Xenophon, Anabasis, IV.iv.21.

MILITARY TENTS

73

where we find a detailed description of the Persian royal tents at


Susa appropriated by Alexander. In fact, Alexander later dies
within this royal military tent.54 Eventually these lavishly
ornamented tents serve as the prototype for a very elaborate tent
pitched by Ptolemy II in Alexandria. Deipnosophistae V.I96-97
describes a massive pavilion used for entertaining, which strongly
resembles a circus-tent: eighteen columns, each 50 cubits tall, are
said to support a structure capable of housing 130 couches. The
tent was composed of fine red linen on the inside, animal skins
between the columns, and an outer layer of myrtle and laurel
boughs.
Roman military camps are described at great length by the
historian Polybius, who provides clear evidence that all Roman
soldiers, not just the upper echelons, inhabited tents while
campaigning.55 Unlike Egyptian and Persian camps, which
apparently had a consistent eastern orientation, the orientation of
Roman camps varied with the topography.56 Polybius describes
the Roman camp's construction as initiated by the raising of the
general's tent, the praetorium, and then the rest of the camp
radiates from this fixed point (Plate 19a).57 The Roman camp's
perimeter is generally square in shape.58 The rigid uniformity

54

Quintus Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander, 10.5-6.


Polybius, VI.32. See also Michel Feugere, Les armes des Romains (Paris,
1993): pp. 50-53. Note that the common infantryman's tent was known as a
papilio, as the entrance flaps resembled the wings of a butterfly; it slept eight.
56
Polybius, VI.27. Water and defensibility were the two primary concerns
for camp choice. See Yann Le Bohec, The Imperial Roman Army (London,
1994): pp. 131-32.
57
Polybius, VI.27-42. The average camp's construction has been estimated
to have taken at least three hours; see Jacques Harmand, L'Armee et le soldat a
Rome de 107 a 50 avant notre ere (Paris, 1967): p. 132, n. 240. The Roman
camp is erected in much the same manner as the Israelite camp in Exod 40:17-33:
first the Tabernacle is set up, and then the rest of the camp is constructed in
relation to the Tabernacle's position. See below, chapter 8, pp. 129-85, for
further details.
58
Polybius, VI.31-32. These square camps became rectangular when two
consuls joined forces. Not all authors describe the single camp as square in
shape, however. Pseudo-Hyginus, XXI, writes of a rectangular camp with 2:3
proportions, although 200 years after Polybius, Josephus still speaks of a
Roman military camp as square (Jewish War, III.5.1 [76-78]; 9.7 [477]; 10.1
[462]).
55

74

CHAPTER FIVE

with which the Romans encamped and marched created fear in


their enemies.59
In fact, Livy reports that upon Philip of Macedon's first
glimpse of the Roman camp,
he admired its whole arrangement and each section given its own
place, with the rows of tents and also the evenly spaced streets
between, and that he remarked that no one could believe that the camp
belonged to barbarians.60

Remains of such a camp exist at the foot of Masada, in which the


stone foundation of hundreds of contubernium "mess units"
once served as the foundation for tents that sheltered eight to nine
soldiers (Plate 19b).61
The impact of Roman military tents in the Near East may also
be found in the New Testament, as Paul is described as a
"tentmaker" (OKr|VonOLO<0 in Acts 18:3, which most likely
means Paul manufactured leather tents for the Roman military.62
The drama in Paul's conversion to Christianity is perhaps
increased by his supplying the Roman military with housing, a
less direct form of persecuting Christians.
The Israelites' Enemies and Their Tents in the Hebrew Bible
The above epigraphic and pictorial records indicate that when the
armed forces of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean
campaigned, whether Egyptian, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian,
Persian, Greek, or Roman, they campaigned with tents. Despite
this familiar association, the word "tent" ("70*0 is employed in a
clear martial context only six times in the Hebrew Bible.
Nevertheless, this probably reflects, not the nonuse of tents, but
59

Adrian K. Goldsworthy, The Roman Army at War (Oxford, 1996): p. 113,


states that uniformity of the military camp and the organized march "was part of
this attempt to intimidate the enemy into submission . . . The marching camp,
although itself a defensive structure, was in a very real sense an instrument of the
offensive."
60
Livy, XXXI.34.8.
61
Yigael Yadin, Masada (London, 1966): p. 219.
62
Wilhelm Michaelis, "OKT"]VOTTOLO<:," Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament VII (Grand Rapids, MI, 1977): pp. 393-94; Ernst Haenchen, The Acts
of the Apostles (Philadelphia, 1971): p. 534, n. 3.

MILITARY TENTS

75

rather the biblical authors' relative uninterest in the techniques of


warfare.63
2 Kgs 7:8-10 uses ^rm four times to refer to the tents that BenHadad of Syria used during his campaign against Samaria. When
four famished lepers venture outside their besieged city in hopes
of receiving food from the Syrians, they surprisingly discover the
Aramaean camp void of people, thanks to divine intervention. The
narrative continues:
And these lepers came to the edge of the camp, and they came to one
tent, and ate and drank; and they took up from there silver and gold
and clothing and went and hid them. And they returned and went into
another tent, and carried from there and went and hid them.64
(2 Kgs 7:8)

Like the Egyptians and Greeks and doubtless all armies, the
Israelites engage in the looting of martial tents. This passage
mentions only the tents of the most elevated officials; nothing is
said of the common soldiers' shelters.
Another passage in the Hebrew Bible featuring ^rm in a
military context is Jer 37:10. The prophet warns the besieged
inhabitants of Jerusalem not to set their hopes on a rescuing
Egyptian army, "because even if you had struck the entire army
of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained
among them wounded men, they would rise up, each man in his
tent, and burn this city with fire." This passage implies a large
number of tents, perhaps an indication that each Babylonian
soldier was protected by a tent. Another interpretation is that the
Babylonian army travelled with hospital tents, or that the wounded
lay down in their beds under tents (Plates 12, 13, 17).
The other occurrence is in Dan 11:45. The eschatological
monarch, while battling foreign kingdoms, "shall pitch his
63
By way of comparison, the Hebrew word for "helmet" jnis is found only ten
times and the word for "sling" v^ eight times in the Hebrew Bible; yet both
undoubtedly saw extensive use by the Israelite military. "Helmet" is found in 1
Sam 17:5, 38; Isa 59:17; Jer 46:4; Ezek 23:24; 27:10; 38:5; Ps 60:7; 108:8; 2
Chr 26:14. "Sling" is found in Judg 20:16; 1 Sam 17:40, 50; 1 Sam 25:29 (2x);
Jer 10:18; 1 Chr 12:2; Prov 26:8.
64
Compare the story in Josephus, Antiquities, IX:77-80.

76

CHAPTERFIVE

palatial tents OJIBN ^rm BByi)" between the sea and the holy
mountain during the end-time battles.
King David's Military Tent
Other biblical passages may use the word brm to refer to a war
tent. According to 1 Sam 17:54: "David took the head of the
Philistine [Goliath] and brought it to Jerusalem; and he put his
weapons in his tent." This passage is filled with difficulties:
Jerusalem is not captured for another 18 chapters; it is not clear
whether the stored weapons belong to Goliath, David, or both; and
the head's final destination is vague. We get the impression that
the soldier's military tent was maintained in a constant state of
readiness, equipped with the implements of warfare. Rameses II,
too, keeps his armor in his tent, and Diodorus of Sicily records
that Punic soldiers keep their armor and valuables inside their
tents.65 Josh 7:22 may be another example: Achan stores the
booty from Jericho in his tentalthough it is Achan's home, and
not a war-tent per se. David's tent in 1 Sam 17:54 might also be
the Tabernacle, just as the Philistines, after their victory on Mt.
Gilboa, place Saul's armor and possibly his head in the temple of
Ashtaroth (1 Sam 31:10).66 Similar imagery is portrayed on an
Assyrian wall relief, in which the heads of Elamite enemies are
stored in a tent (Plate 20).
Two Tents, Two Heroines, and Two Dead Generals: The Cases of
Jael and Judith
Two of the most famous killings in the Hebrew Bible and
Apocrypha occur in tents. The first is in Judges 4-5, where Jael
kills Sisera. Even though a tent peg is the murder weapon, Jael's
tent is not a military tent; rather, she and the rest of the Kenites are
described as permanent tent-dwellers.67 In the Apocryphal story
of Judith, however, the heroine murders Holofernes inside his own
65

For Rameses, see Raymond O. Faulkner, "The Battle of Kadesh," p. 101.


Diodorus, XX.65.
66
Note also Judith 13, in which Holofernes' severed head and his canopy are
used to motivate Israelite troops.
67
The Kenites are described as tent-dwellers in Judg 5:24. See also Baruch
Halpern, "Kenites," ABD IV, pp. 17-22.

MILITARY TENTS

77

military tent.68 The symbolism of both stories, in which a woman


overcomes a war-experienced general, is enhanced by this
background of martial tents.
Israelite and Opposing Militaries Camping in Tents, and Issues of
Sanitation
Although the noun ^nfc rarely appears, the Hebrew Bible
frequently uses the root mn "camp" apropos of the militaries of
Israel and her neighbors.69 Passages such as 2 Kgs 19:35 speak of
the Assyrian camp (run??), and the palace reliefs from Nineveh
show that tents are a major feature in these camps.70 Furthermore,
the root run is used eight times in 2 Kings 7 for the Syrian camp
("tent" appears four times).
Other passages record the unclean environs of the military
camp. Yahweh laments in Amos 4:10 that the people did not
return to Him after "I made the stink of your camp go up into
your nose." Related is a law in Deut 23:12-14, which instructs
that one defecate "outside the camp"~although the explicit
justification is characteristically religious:
You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it;
and you shall have a stick with your tools; and when you sit down
outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your
excrement. Because Yahweh your God walks in the midst of your
camp, to save you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore
your camp must be holy, that He may not see anything indecent
among you, and turn away from you.

Israelite and Syrian Militaries Campaigning in Booths


Three passages use ni30 "booths" in reference to military
shelters.71 Uriah complains to David in 2 Sam 11:11 that he
68

Judith 13.
Israelite armies encamp in Josh 4:19; 5:10; 6:11, 14; 10:31, 34; Judg
20:19; 1 Sam 4:1, 3, 5-7, 11:11; 2 Sam 12:28; Jer 50:29, etc. Other armies
encamp in Josh 10:5; Judg 6:4; 1 Sam 4:1; 13:5;
2 Kgs 7:16; 25:1; Jer 52:4, etc.
70
For a discussion of the camp's location at Jerusalem, see David Ussishkin,
"The 'Camp of the Assyrians' in Jerusalem," IEJ 29 (1979): pp. 137-42.
71
See Michael M. Homan, "Booths or Succoth?: A Response to Yigael
69

78

CHAPTER FIVE

cannot go home, while "the Ark and Israel and Judah are
dwelling ni303." This provides the clearest evidence for the use of
portable shelters by the Israelite military. Enemy forces also use
booths in 1 Kgs 20:12, 16, where Ben-Hadad and thirty-two allied
kings are carousing nioos while besieging Samaria.
Some Concluding Remarks on Military Tents in the Hebrew Bible
The above survey indicates the use of tents in the military
campaigns of ancient Israel and her neighbors. The extent to
which tents were distributed to the lower-ranking soldiers is
unknown, though it seems likely that most would sleep in a shelter
of some sort. Indeed, Uriah reports in 2 Sam 11:11 that not just
the elite, but "Israel and Judah are dwelling niD03. "
The following chapter explores yet another function of tents in
the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East: as settings for
activities of a sexual nature.

Yadin," JBL 118 (1999): pp. 691-97, which challenges Yadin's reading of rroo
as the Transjordanian city (Yigael Yadin, "Some Aspects of the Strategy of Ahab
and David," Bib 36 [1955]: pp. 332-51. For a less detailed argument, see also
Yadin, The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands (New York, 1963): pp. 274-75.

CHAPTER SIX

LOVE TENTS: SEX AND MARRIAGE UNDER


TENT-RELATED SHELTERS
While the Hebrew Bible is mostly silent
regarding wedding rituals, several passages
explicitly record the use of tents both in the
ceremony and later as a chamber in which the
marriage is consummated. Similar tents can be
found throughout the ancient Near East.
Furthermore, many lurid tales of sex and lust
are set within tents in the Hebrew Bible.

When Rudolph Valentino's characters repeatedly conquered the


trepidation of otherwise virtuous girls in the early days of cinema,
more often than not the seduction occurred in a tent.1 This
romantic aspect of tents was not invented in Hollywood, for a long
history links tent-related architecture to the erotic. This chapter
will explore the employment of tents in both ancient Israelite
marriage ceremonies and the consummation of nuptials, as well as
tent settings for biblical tales of luridness, seduction, and
exhibitionistic intercourse.
Tents in Israelite Marriage Ceremonies
The Hebrew Bible is silent concerning the exact procedure by
which couples married in ancient Israel.2 Nevertheless, various
passages attest to the use of tents in both the wedding ceremony
and the subsequent consummation. Solomon journeys with his
wedding procession inside a litter called inan "his bed" and

Tents were prominent in such films as The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand
(1922), The Young Rajah (1922), and Valentino's final film, The Son of the
Sheik (1926). For a more general discussion of the Western world's
preoccupation with Arab sexuality and procreativity, see Edward W. Said,
Orientalism (New York, 1979): p. 311.
2
See for example Victor P. Hamilton, "Marriage (OT and ANE)," ABD IV, p.
560: "Ancient Israel never produced a marriage manual . . . the laws pertaining to
marriage in the legal codes ... are few and scattered."

80

CHAPTER SIX

fl'"js "palanquin" in Cant 3:7, 9.3 The lavishly decorated litter is


covered by dyed cloth and supported by silver poles.4 Possibly
related is Ps 45:14, where a wedding procession enigmatically
includes a bride "inside" (n?r]s), perhaps "inside" a litter
similar to Solomon's.5
Then there is the nuptial tent itself. Ps 19:5-6 states that
Yahweh has pitched a tent 0?rm) for the sun, which comes forth
like a bridegroom leaving his tent (insn).6 This is the biblical
precedent for the use of the marriage canopy (nan) in Jewish
wedding ceremonies, a practice widely attested since the Rabbinic
period.7 Psalm 19 does not specify what the bridegroom is doing
in the tent. But another passage suggests that the bridegroom is
leaving his nan following the marriage's consummation. Joel 2:16
prophesies that the Day of Yahweh is dire enough to necessitate
total attendance at the assembly with none exempted: "Let the
bridegroom exit his room (i~nn), and the bride her tent (nnsn)."

Marriage Tents: The Extra-Biblical Evidence


Ps 19:5-6 and Joel 2:16 perhaps relate to a postbiblical practice of
inhabiting a wedding tent for one week following the ceremony.
In Rabbinic works, as well as various practices in the Islamic
world, a bride returns to work following her seven days in the
3
On the much-debated meaning and etymology offrisN, see Marvin H. Pope,
The Song of Songs, AB 7c (Garden City, NY, 1977): pp. 441-43.
4
Cant 3:7-10.
5
As suggested by Christoph Schroeder, '"A Love Song:' Psalm 45 in the
Light of Ancient Near Eastern Marriage Texts," CBQ 58 (1996): p. 429,
although he points out that many commentators replace nn^B with "coral beads"
(DTE) to parallel the following clause's "golden robes."
6
See Samuel Krauss, "Der richtige Sinn von 'Schrecken in der Nacht,'" Orient
and Occident, Moses Gaster 80th Anniversary Volume (London, 1936): pp. 32330, who amasses biblical and anthropological data pertaining to the groom's
danger on his wedding night. Thus the nsn protects the couple until dawn. This
theory clarifies passages such as John 3:29, where the groom's friends are glad
to hear his voice, and Cant 3:7, where Solomon's marriage litter is protected
from "Night Fear" by 60 armed men.
7
See Adolf Biichler, "The Induction of the Bride and the Bridegroom into the
nsin in the First and the Second Centuries in Palestine," Livre d'hommage a la
memoire du Samuel Poznanski (Leipzig, 1927): pp. 82-132. The affinity
between marriages and msn grows so strong in postbiblical Judaism that often
the word nan refers to the wedding itself, and not just the tent. See Avot 5:21.

LOVETENTS

81

nan .8 This bridal tent is routinely pitched near the dwelling of the
groom's parents.9 Similarly, Rebekah and Isaac consummate their
marriage in his mother's tent.10 Moreover, the Arabic phrase for
the consummation of a marriage: "he built over her" (bana
'alaiha), is explained by the husband's role of making and
furnishing a new tent for his bride.11 Apparently related to a
weeklong occupancy of the rrsn is the week Jacob must live with
Leah before he can marry Rachel; moreover, Samson's wedding
is followed by a seven-day feast.12
An association between tents and weddings can also be found
at Ugarit, although the correlation is not conclusive. Kirta's
wedding is followed by the lines:
tbrk Urn tity
tity Urn lahlhm
dr il Imsknthm

The gods bless, they go


The gods go to their tents
The circle of El to their tabernacles.13

Pesikta de-Rab Kahana 149b. See for further discussion Adolf Buchler, "The
Induction of the Bride and the Bridegroom into the nsin in the First and the
Second Centuries in Palestine," pp. 120-32. For a list of Islamic parallels
ranging from Muhammad's era to the early 20th century, see W. Robertson
Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia (London, 1903): pp. 198-216. In
Morocco, the marriage tent is still customary; see Edward Westermarck, Ritual
and Belief in Morocco (New York, 1968) vol. 2, p. 9.
9
W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, pp. 198-216.
This parallels marriage practices in the Late Bronze Age; see Carlo Zaccagnini,
"On Late Bronze Age Marriages," Studi in onore di Edda Bresciani (Pisa, 1985):
pp. 593-605. See also Christoph Schroeder, '"A Love Song': Psalm 45 in the
Light of Ancient Near Eastern Marriage Texts," p. 424, who discusses similar
rituals.
10
Gen 24:67. After the marriage, the woman may maintain her own tent.
Thus, in Judg 4:22, the tent in which Sisera seeks refuge in belongs to Jael, not
her husband Heber. Similarly, Sarah is said to have her own tent in Gen 18:6-10;
24:67; as do Leah, Rachel, and their servants in Gen 31:33.
11
See W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage, p. 198.
12
Gen 29:27-28 and Judg 14:12, 17. Tobit 8:20, however, prolongs a wedding feast for 14 days.
13
CAT 1.15.III. 17-19. See Adrianus van Selms, Marriage and Family Life in
Ugaritic Literature (London, 1954): p. 41.

82

CHAPTER SIX

While tents are mentioned in a marital context, it is not clear if


they played a role in the actual ceremony. More likely, the phrase
expresses the disbanding of the divine assembly, an issue to be
explored in the final chapter.14
From Egypt, an Aramaic text in Demotic script variously dated
from the fourth to the second centuries B.C.E. describes a bridal
chamber to be used in a sacred marriage, although the portions
necessary to determine whether the structure is tent-related are
missing.15 Also relevant is a story concerning Alexander the Great
that suggests a similar custom in Persia. After defeating Darius,
Alexander orders the construction of 92 bridal tents for the
marriages of Persian women to himself and his forces.
Alexander's tent is supported by golden pillars, the others by
silver, and the lavish wedding celebration is reported to have lasted
for many days.16
Four Lascivious Stories With a Tent Setting: Ham, Jael, Judith,
and Pughat
Tents not only provide the setting for weddings, but many
additional acts of a lurid nature take place under their shelter in
the Hebrew Bible and Ugaritic literature. For example, Ham
witnesses his father's nakedness in a tent following Noah's drunkenness, an act some interpreters have read as indicative of
homosexual rape.17 Similarly in the tale of Jael and Sisera (Judges
4), although nothing in their relationship is explicitly sexual,
various readers have found much in the way of sexual symbolism.18 Also, Holofernes's military tent is the locale of four
successive days of attempted seduction in the Apocryphal story of
14

See below, chapter 9, pp. 187-92.


Papyrus Amherst 63 is translated by Richard C. Steiner in The Context of
Scripture (Leiden, 1997): p. 99. Note the damaged relevant portions in XI. 1-3.
For the papyrus as a whole, see Raymond A. Bowman, "An Aramaic Religious
Text in Demotic Script," JNES 3 (1944): pp. 219-31; Stanislav Segert,
"Preliminary Notes on the Structure of the Aramaic Poems in the Papyrus
Amherst 63," UF 18 (1986): pp. 271-99.
16
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae XII.538d,
17
Gen 9:20-27.
18
Susan Ackerman, Warrior, Dancer, Seductress, Queen: Women in Judges
and Biblical Israel (New York: Doubleday, 1998): pp. 90-117; Lillian R. Klein,
"A Spectrum of Female Characters in the Book of Judges," A Feminist
Companion to Judges, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield, 1993): pp. 29-30.
15

LOVETENTS

83

Judith. Holofernes's efforts to win his desired's favor are less


successful than Valentino's, as Judith cuts off his head within his
tent.19 Moreover, the canopy that covered Holoferaes's bed is
used, along with his severed head, as a trophy by which to inspire
the Israelite forces.20 Again, since the context is military, the
presence of a tent is natural, and yet we find a pattern of seduction
and violence under tent-related shelter. The tent connotes
intimacy and security, and therefore makes the most horrid
backdrop for crimes of sex. While not recorded in known ancient
Near Eastern texts, it is likely that much sex took place with
captives in military tents.
Similar in nature to the above three tales in the Hebrew Bible is
the Ugaritic Epic of Aqhat, in which the heroine Pughat avenges
her slain brother inside a tent. Pughat hospitably offers the soldier
Yatpan wine, and then, although the tablet breaks off, it seems
clear that she stabs Yatpan with a blade she had been concealing.21
The Many Lusts of the Tent-Girl Sisters in Ezekiel 23
Further evidence of the sexual connotation of tents in the Hebrew
Bible can be seen in the metaphorical sisters of Ezekiel 23, both
of whose names allude to tents. Samaria is represented by Oholah
"her tent," and Judah by her sister Oholibah "my tent is in her."
According to Ezekiel, both girls are notorious for their sexual
activities, notably with Egyptians (v. 3, 8, 19, 21), Assyrians (v. 57, 23), and Babylonians (17, 23). While tents elsewhere serve as
metaphors for Israel and Judah, the sexual nature of the crimes in
Ezekiel's metaphor is heightened by the mention of tents.22 The
Tent of Israel, which should be God's presence, is instead a shelter
concealing fornication.

19

Judith 13.
Jud 13:15.
21
Epic of Aqhat CAT 1.19-20. See Ronald S. Hendel, The Epic of the Patriarch: The Jacob Cycle and the Narrative Traditions of Canaan and Israel, HSM
42 (Atlanta, 1987): pp. 89-94; Susan Ackerman, Warrior, Dancer, Seductress,
Queen: Women in Judges and Biblical Israel, pp. 198-200.
22
On the use of tents as a metaphor for Israel and Judah, see above, pp. 7-9.
20

84

CHAPTER SIX

The Love Tabernacle: Taboo Sex in Yahweh's Tent


Two specific sexual acts inside tents are among the most heinous
breaches of ritual law in the Hebrew Bible. In Num 25:8, the priest
Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, pursues an Israelite man and a
Midianite woman into a tent and there executes the couple.23 The
couple's engagement in sexual intercourse at the time of their
death is inferred from the description of Phinehas' spear piercing
"the man and the woman to her belly."24 Here the tent is called
n3n, a hapax legomenon with two possible explanations. Most
likely it refers to the Tabernacle or a specific part of it, just as
Arabic qubba refers to a tent shrine.25 Furthermore, Num 25:6
says that all Israel were "weeping at the opening of the tent of the
appointed time." The seriousness of the sin likewise suggests a
Tabernacle setting, as the couple merits one of the harshest
penalties in the Hebrew Bible, a plague killing 24,000.26
Alternatively, however, the story in Numbers 25 might be less
dramatic; nippn may simply refer to the couple's marriage tent.
The costly plague would then have arisen from the intermarriage
of Israelite men and foreign women, whether from Midian (P) or
Moab (JE). If so, the couple executed in Num 25:8 are but one of
many practicing international marriage. Later P texts make it clear
that Midianite women, not just Kozbi, bear responsibility for the
plague. Thus in Num 31:16, Moses reprimands the officers for
not killing the Midianite women, claiming they caused the
Israelite men "to act treacherously against Yahweh in the matter
of Peor, so the plague came among the congregation of
Yahweh." Phinehas's anger could result solely from frustration at
the ever-increasing practice of intermarriage.
Eli's two sons also sin through sexual escapades within the
Tabernacle at Shiloh. 1 Sam 2:22 records that Eli's sons "lay
with the women assembled at the door of the tent of the appointed
23
The couple remain anonymous until Num 25:14-15, which reveals that the
man's name is Zimri, the woman's Cozbi. Both names have sexual overtones.
"Zimri" refers to masculine strength, while Cozbi is related either to the Arabic
goddess al-Kutba, or perhaps more likely to Akkadian kuzbu "voluptuousness,"
an attribute of Ishtar.
24
Num 25:8. However, the Syriac replaces "to her belly" (nrog-11?!*) with "in
the qubbah" (naga).
25
See below, pp. 90-93.
26
Num 25:9. Note too that Phinehas's action stays the plague.

LOVE TENTS

85

time." While they are not killed immediately like the couple in
Numbers 25, the text records that the sons failed to listen to their
father's warnings concerning this grave sin, "because Yahweh
desired to kill them" (v. 25). Evidence of the defiling power of
sexual intercourse can be found in laws such as Lev 15:18, which
prescribes a ritual bath and an interval to cleanse impurities for
both the man and the woman following intercourse.27 Consequently, sexual intercourse inside Yahweh's terrestrial tenthome ranks among the greatest taboos.
Also of interest is the postbiblical interpretation of the
Tabernacle as the nuptial tent for the marriage of Yahweh to the
people of Israel. This most clearly appears in Pesikta de-Rab
Kahana 1:5, which midrashically reads "bride" (n1?:?) for the
MT's "finished" (ni1??) in Num 7:1, interpreting Moses as a
bride before the Tabernacle.28 Perhaps related to the standard
week spent in a marriage nsn is the seven-day festival sponsored
by Solomon upon the consecration of the Temple, although
seven-day (de)consecrations are common.29 The nan metaphor of
the Tabernacle and Temple arises out of the wedding imagery for
God's relationship to Israel.30
David's Concubines, A Rooftop Tent, and Absalom's Claim on
the Throne
The clearest case in which a tent is used for a sexual purpose is in
2 Sam 16:20-22. Absalom and forces sympathetic to his claim on
the throne force David out of Jerusalem. David's former adviser
27
Both Num 25:6-9 and Lev 15:18 are P texts. Other authors record similar
beliefs; e.g.: Exod 19:15 (JE) prepares Israel for their initial meeting with
Yahweh by ordering them to abstain from sex for three days. Also, 1 Sam 21:5-6
reserves "holy bread" for men abstaining from sex, and Uriah's response to
David in 2 Sam 11:11-13 shows that sex is forbidden to soldiers in Holy War,
which requires the presence of the Ark.
28
Howard Eilberg-Schwartz's God's Phallus ([Boston, 1994]: pp. 142-46;
166-67) discusses the feminization of Moses (and Israel) vis-a-vis God in
biblical and Jewish literature.
29
Solomon's feast following the consecration of the Temple similarly lasts
seven days in 1 Kgs 8:65-66 and 2 Chr 7:8-9. Nevertheless, many changes of
status last seven days (profane/sacred, unclean/clean, single/married,
layman/priest).
30
Wedding imagery is found in Isa 61:10; 62:5; Ezekiel 16, and Hos 2:1618.

86

CHAPTER SIX

Ahithophel, now allied with Absalom, recommends a bold public


declaration of the succession of kingship that transcends the
traditional anointing ceremony and trumpet blast. He suggests
that Absalom pitch "the tent" (brmn) on the palace rooftop and
lie with the ten concubines David left behind to care for the
Jerusalem palace.31 The definite article prefacing brm suggests a
specific tent, likely akin to the marriage nan. 32
Absalom's sexual relations with David's harem fulfills
Nathan's prophecy following David's sin against Uriah:
Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I
will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your
neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel,
and before the sun.
(2Saml2:ll-12) 33

Intercourse with the previous king's harem as a claim of regal


succession is paralleled in 2 Sam 3:7, where Ishbosheth questions
Abner's relationship with Saul's concubine; 2 Sam 12:8, where
attributes of kingship include the wives of the former king; and 1
Kgs 2:17-25, where Adonijah's request for David's consort
Abishag is interpreted by Solomon as a claim on the throne.34
Absalom's rooftop tent partakes of the public and the private:
while his actions are partially masked by a linen wall, presumably
for decency's sake, nonetheless little is left to the voyeur's
imagination: it is basically "before all Israel, and before the sun."
31

See 2 Sam 15:16.


Alternatively, the definite article may suggest the tent was in fact the "tent
of the appointed time."
33
Baruch Halpern observes this is the same roof from which David saw
Bathsheba, The First Historians (University Park, 1996): pp. 51-52.
34
Ken Stone, "Sexual Practice and the Structure of Prestige: The Case of the
Disputed Concubines," SBL Seminar Papers (1993): pp. 554-73; Francis
Langlamet, "Absalom et les concubines de son pere," RB 84 (1977): pp. 161209. Jacob similarly rebukes Reuben for sexual relations with Rachel's
handmaid Bilhah (Gen 35:22; 49:3-4). Note also the Ugaritic king Arhalba, who
in the absence of a child to succeed the throne, wills his wife to his brother, and
threatens divine retribution if another man takes her (PRU 3:16.144). This also
recalls levirate marriage customs. Ultimately, it is a matter of primate social
structure: the dominant male mates with all the females until he is displaced.
32

LOVE TENTS

87

Proofs of sexual relations are elsewhere publicly displayed in the


Hebrew Bible. A law recorded in Deut 22:15 seems to indicate
that a cloth stained with hymeneal blood was evidence of a girl's
premarital chastity.35 The consummation of marriage before an
audience finds widespread extra-biblical parallels.36 Absalom's
bold claim necessitated a bold forum. None could doubt the
action and its significance.
The following two chapters explore the use of tents in religious
contexts. Chapter seven investigates the many tent shrines
mentioned in literature and archaeology throughout the Near
East, while chapter eight specifically examines the history, form,
and fate of the Hebrew Bible's most famous tent: the Tabernacle.

35

David R. Mace, Hebrew Marriage (London, 1953): pp. 230-32; Raphael


Patai, Sex and Family in the Bible and the Middle East (Garden City, New York,
1959): pp. 66-70. Awareness of the imprecision of this "proof of virginity can
be seen in the Mishnah (Ketuboth, 1.3), which discusses a case where a girl's
hymen is ruptured accidentally. Virginity as a sought-after quality in a bride is
especially apparent in Lev 21:13, which says priests can marry only virgins.
36
See Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage, I, pp. 435-39;
II, pp. 445-48, 504, 586. Leo Africanus' 16th-century report from Morocco tells
of bloodstained sheets displayed by the groom immediately following
intercourse (p. 325). Similar accounts are in Joseph P. Tournefort, Voyage in the
Levant II (London, 1718): p. 69; Johann L. Burckhardt, Arab Proverbs (London,
1830): p. 117; Bedouins I (London, 1831): p. 266; Johann G. Wetzstein in A.
Bastian's Zeitschrift fur Ethnologic (1873): pp. 290 ff.; and F. A. Klein,
"Mitteilungen iiber Leben, Sitten und Gebrauche der Fellachen in Palastina,"
ZDPV 6 (1883): pp. 81-101. Further parallels are listed in H. Clay Trumbull, The
Threshold Covenant (New York, 1896): pp. 243-52, and Shelagh Weir and
Widad Kawar, "Costumes and Wedding Customs in Bayt Dajan," PEQ 107
(1975): p. 50, who discuss a white undergarment (bayt al-shdm) worn by a
Palestinian bride on the wedding night, the blood stains on which are then
publicly displayed.

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CHAPTER SEVEN

TABERNACLE PARALLELS: NEAR EASTERN PORTABLE


SHRINES ACROSS THE AGES
Archaeological and literary data from the Near
East attest to the existence of tent shrines, as
well as many other portable sanctuaries more
properly classified as booths or tented wagons.
These range chronologically from the earliest
historical periods to the modem era. Two of
these shrines, one displayed on battle reliefs of
Rameses II and one buried with Tutankhamen,
parallel the descriptions of the Tabernacle's
form and function to a degree implying a direct
line of tradition. These two Egyptian tents date
to the Late Bronze period, as does Ugaritic
literature recording a similar tent dwelling for
El. Finally, the many differences between the
Jerusalem Temple and the Tabernacle refute the
theory that the Priestly sacred tent is merely a
fictitious copy of the Temple.

History of Research
Scholarly faith in the Tabernacle's historicity declined with the
advent of Higher Criticism. The elaborate tent shrine described in
the priestly stratum became the focal point for Wellhausen's claim
that a portable sanctuary was fraudulently invented to lend
credence to a period of desert wanderings, thus justifying P's
contemporary postexilic demands. Moreover, while Wellhausen
conceded that a tent-covering of sorts might have played a role in
early Israelite religion as a shelter for the Ark, he wrote that the
priestly Tabernacle "ist in Wahrheit nicht das Urbild, sondern die
Kopie des jerusalemischen Tempels."1 Subsequent scholars,
intending to bolster the Tabernacle's historicity, sought other
Near Eastern tent shrines, ancient and otherwise. Parallels from the
Islamic world dominated early endeavors, but while these camel1
Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels 6th edition (Berlin,
1905): p. 37. Current scholarly opinion essentially remains that of Wellhausen.
See p. 2-3, n. 12.

90

CHAPTER SEVEN

borne tent litters and palladia testified to a long history of Semitic


tent shrines, they better mirrored the Ark in function. In 1947,
however, Frank M. Cross, Jr., published a seminal article on the
Tabernacle in which he drew on various tent shrines from
Phoenicia, Ugarit, Egypt, and Mesopotamia to argue the
Tabernacle's reality.2 Studies on biblical and ancient Near
Eastern tents since Cross's article typically are limited to a specific
material culture or a class of tent.3 The intention of the present
chapter is to examine the many portable shrines known to
scholarship, both individually and collectively. In the process, the
Tabernacle's historicity will be made more probable. Moreover,
Wellhausen's solution to the shared characteristics of the
Jerusalem Temple and the Tabernacle will be reversed: the priestly
tent will be shown to have precedence.
Bedouin and Pre-hlamic Tent Shrines: The cutfah, the mahmal,
and the qubba
Prior to Cross's article, scholars seeking parallels to the
Tabernacle focused almost exclusively on Bedouin palladia and
sacred litters known as the cutfah, the mahmal, and their apparent
ancestor, the qubba.4 The cutfah, the most famous of which is the
markab of the Rwala tribe, consists of a wooden frame, decorated
with ostrich feathers, at times covered with a tent (Plates 2la, 21b).

Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The Tabernacle," pp. 45-68; "The Priestly Tabernacle," The Biblical Archaeologist Reader I, pp. 201-28.
3
For a list and discussion of these studies, see p. 4, n. 18.
4
These parallels were first pointed out by Robert W. Rogers in a letter to The
Academy, March 31 (1883): pp. 221 ff. Numerous studies followed, most in the
first half of the 20th century. Brenda Z. Seligman, "Sacred Litters Among the
Semites," Sudan Notes and Records (1918): p. 269, and Richard Hartmann, "Zelt
und Lade," ZAW 37 (1918): pp. 216-25, are of particular merit. The most
thorough analysis of the qubba remains Henri Lammens, "Le culte des betyles et
les processions religieuses chez les arabes preislamites," initial publication in
Bulletin de I'lnstitut fran^ais d'archeologie orientale 17 (1919), reprinted in
L'Arabie occidentale avant I'Hegire (Beirut, 1928): pp. 101-79. For a
comprehensive review of previous studies on the 'utfah, mahmal, and qubba, see
Julian Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the 'Tent of Meeting,'" HUCA 17
(1942): pp. 153-266; HUCA 18 (1943): pp. 1-52. On the formerly extensive
distribution of the 'utfah, see Anne Blunt, Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates II
(London, 1879): p. 146, and Julian Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the
'Tent of Meeting,'" pp. 176, 191.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

91

This frame is placed on the back of a camel, and is used


primarily as a means of inciting fervor prior to military
engagements. Sacrifices are made before it, the blood from which
is sprinkled on its corners.5 It is also valued as an oracular
device.6 Accounts of this structure include several stories that
strongly recall the Ark's use as a palladium, and, like the Ark,
horrible things are said to happen if the 'utfah is captured by
enemy tribes.7
Similar in nature to the 'utfah, yet larger, is the mahmal, a
domed, camel-borne tent elaborately decorated; it typically
houses Islamic religious texts (Plates 22, 23, 24a, 24b).8 It is used
occasionally as a palladium, but more often the mahmal serves as
a palanquin for tribal leaders on the Haj to Mecca, a practice
already attested in the 13th century.9
Despite the similarities between the cutfah and the mahmal on
the one hand, and the Tabernacle and its cultic implements on the
other, these biblical and Islamic tent shrines have been the victims
of over-zealous parallelomania. Robert W. Rogers, for example,
notes that both the Ark and the mahmal bear silver-gilt knobs, are
paraded circularly (the Ark seven times at Jericho, the mahmal
three times around an open space before the Cairo citadel), and
may not be touched (Uzzah died because he grasped the Ark, a
traveler confessed he had been overbold in holding the fringe of
the mahmal).10 In the end, the most that can be said regarding the
5

Brenda Z. Seligman, "Sacred Litters Among the Semites," p. 275, and Julian
Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the 'Tent of Meeting,'" p. 158.
Similarly, Lev 16:15 commands that blood be placed upon the Ark on the Day of
Atonement.
6
Julian Morgenstern, p. 158. Cf. Num 7:89.
7
Julian Morgenstern, pp. 162-63, 178. Cf. 1 Samuel 4-7.
8
What is contained within the mahmal is disputed. Edward W. Lane, The
Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians 11 (London, 1842): p. 202, says
two copies of the Koran, while Johann L. Burckhardt, Travels in Arabia II
(London, 1829): pp. 49-51, says a "small book of prayers and charms."
Occasionally the mahmal does not contain religious texts, but is empty. See
Frants Buhl, "Mahmal," The Encyclopaedia of Islam VI, New Edition (Leiden,
1986): p. 45.
9
Frants Buhl, "Mahmal," The Encyclopaedia of Islam VI, New Edition
(Leiden, 1986): pp. 44-46.
10
Robert W. Rogers, The Academy, (1883): pp. 221 ff. It is unknown what
Rogers had in mind when he referred to the Ark's silver-gilt knobs. Rogers is
not alone in parallelomania; see for example Carl R. Raswan, The Black Tents of

92

CHAPTER SEVEN

relationship between the 'utfah and the mahmal to the Tabernacle


is that they provide extra-biblical evidence of a Semitic tent shrine
serving in processions and battle.
The antecedent of these Islamic tents, the qubba, is again a
miniature, camel-borne tent used as a palladium, oracular device,
and procession leader.11 While the differences between the
massive biblical tent purported to require six carts and twelve
oxen to transport it (Num 7:3) and a tent carried on the back of a
single camel should not be underestimated, the qubba'?, long and
distinguished history manifests two elements that more closely
link it to the Tabernacle. Like the Tabernacle, the qubba is
covered by red leather; and more remarkable, the Tabernacle
itself is referred to by this same word (nagn) in Num 25:8.12 Early
Islamic sources report that Muhammad and his contemporaries
traveled and fought bearing a qubba.13 Interestingly, an early
representation of the Arabian qubba exists in a carving from the
temple of Bel at Palmyra (Plate 25a). Here a camel can be seen
carrying a red leather tent in procession.14 From the tent's front
an item protrudes, often identified as a betyl.15 The qubba's
existence is also attested in Palmyrene texts.16
Arabia (Boston, 1935): pp. 75-78, who calls the markab "the Ark of Ishmael,"
and Julian Morgenstern, "The Book of the Covenant," HUCA 5 (1928): pp. 11213, who links Deborah to the "battle-maidens" who occasionally rode in the
'utfah. See also Julian Morgenstern's "The Ark, the Ephod, and the 'Tent of
Meeting,'" HUCA 17 (1942-1943): pp. 177-79; 204-07. Cross accuses
Morgenstern of excessively pushing the parallels in "The Priestly Tabernacle,"
p. 219. More recently, Menahem Haran addresses this same issue in "Otfe,
Mahmal and KubbeNotes on the Study of the Origins of Biblical Cult Forms:
The Problem of Arabic Parallels," in D. Neiger Memorial Volume, (Jerusalem,
1959): pp. 215-21 (Hebrew).
11
For early Islamic accounts of the qubba, see Henri Lammens, L'Arabic
occidentale avant L'Hegire, Herbert G. May, "The ArkA Miniature Temple,"
AJSL 52 (1936): pp. 229-31, and Julian Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and
the '"Tent of Meeting,'" pp. 207-23.
12
On the existence and meaning of red tents in Islam, see Henri Lammens,
"Le culte des betyles," p. 134. On the qubba's reference to the Tabernacle, see
above, p. 13.
13
For a list of early Islamic sources, see Herbert G. May, "The ArkA
Miniature Temple," p. 230 n. 56.
14
Henri Seyrig, Robert Amy, and Ernest Will, Le Temple de Eel a Palmyra,
Texte et Planches (Paris, 1975): p. 88, pi. 42.1. For a color facsimile, see Le
Temple de Bel a Palmyra, Album (1968): p. 143.
15
Henri Seyrig, R. Amy, E. WH1, Le Temple de Bel a Palmyra, p. 88.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

93

Three other terracotta images from Syria, tentatively dated to


the first century B.C.E., depict camel-borne litters often identified
with the qubba, although this is less certain (Plates 25b, 26a,
26b).17 In sum, while the qubba and its successors the 'utfah and
the mahmal are more austere than the Tabernacle, they point to
the long history of Near Eastern tent shrines, and show that for
pastoral societies where tents provide an important means of
shelter, tents often find representations in the religion.
The Ka'ba and the Tabernacle
One further Islamic structure is surprisingly neglected by those
seeking parallels to the Tabernacle. This is the Kacba, the most
sacred shrine in Islam.
The Ka'ba consists of a large stone building covered by a black
curtain called the kiswa (Plate 27). The kiswa serves no utilitarian
purpose, and it seems to be a symbolic representation of tentrelated architecture. In fact, early witnesses claim the Kacba was a
roofless wooden shrine covered by a tent until it was rebuilt by
Muhammad.18 Various legends within Islam support this as well.
One story maintains that Adam, upon being cast out of Paradise,
came to Mecca. Thither, God sent from Paradise a tent of red
jacinth stone (sic!) in which Adam lived.19 While it now consists of
Consequently, if the qubba is in fact the forerunner of the mahmal, then the
aniconic Islamic tradition has replaced the original betyl with religious texts.
Similarly within Judaism the focus of worship is no longer an p with stone
tablets, but an p-m with scrolls.
16
Hans-Jurgen Zobel, "p-i*," TDOT 1:367.
17
Described in Franz Cumont, "La double Fortune des Semites et les processions a dos de chameau, Etudes Syriennes (Paris, 1917): pp. 263-76. The
tented cover of figures 31-32 may have originally been red as well. See Harald
Ingholt, "Inscriptions and Sculptures from Palmyra I," Berytus 3 (1936): p. 86.
18
The Ka'ba is supposed to rest directly beneath God's throne in heaven. God
ordered his angels to create the shrine prior to the creation of humans, and it was
later rebuilt by Abraham. In the time of Muhammad, the shrine was roofless,
measuring approximately 9 cubits tall and 30 by 20 cubits in length and width,
built around the well of Zamzam. Then in 608, when Muhammad was
approximately 38, he rebuilt it. See Keppel A. C. Creswell, Early Muslim
Architecture, revised ed. (London, 1989): p. 3; Robin Bidwell, Travellers in
Arabia (New York, 1976): p. 117. For the Ka'ba's tent-related predecessor, see
Toufic Fahd, Le Pantheon de L'Arabie centrale a la veille de L'Hegire (Paris,
1968): 204-05, and Julius Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums 2nd edition
(Berlin, 1897): pp. 73-79.
19
Arent J. Wensinck, "Ka'ba," Encyclopaedia of Islam II (Leiden, 1927): p.

94

CHAPTER SEVEN

black panels, during the reign of the Wahhabis, the kiswa, like the
Tabernacle's outer covering, was red.20 Lastly, like the Tabernacle's curtains, the kiswa possesses a special sanctity; when
replaced annually, pieces of the former kiswa are sold by the
doorkeepers as amulets.21
Tents in Ugaritic and Hittite Mythology and the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle's most solid literary parallel comes from the
tablets of Ras Shamra (Ugarit), where El, the elderly head of the
pantheon, explicitly dwells in a tent (ahl).22 Moreover, El's
dwelling is frequently called a tabernacle (mskri).23 Two other
designations, dd and qrs, can be found in the common formula
for entering El's abode:
tgly dd il wtbu
qrs mlk ab snm
They rolled back the tent flap of El's domed-tent24 and went into
589. This legend also claims that God sent a white jacinth to be Adam's throne,
which is now the sacred black stone.
20
Arent J. Wensinck, revised by Jacques Jomier, "Ka'ba," Encyclopaedia of
Islam IV, New Edition (Leiden, 1978): p. 319.
21
Toufic Fahd, Le Pantheon de L'Arable centrale, pp. 203-36.
22
El's ahl is attested in CAT 1.15.III.18-19; perhaps also 1.19.IV.50-60,
where El is associated with ytpn's tent camp. On El's status as chief deity, see E.
Theodore Mullen, Jr., The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew
Literature, HSM 24 (Missoula, 1980): pp. 139-147, and Conrad E. L'Heureux,
Rank Among the Canaanite Gods: El, Ba'al and the Rephaim, HSM 21
(Missoula, 1979).
23
See for example CAT 1.15.III.17-19, where mSkn is parallel to ahl.
Similarly, ^rjN and ]3m are frequently paired in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Num
24:5; Isa 54:2; Jer 30:18).
24
As suggested by Richard J. Clifford, "The Tent of El and the Israelite Tent
of Meeting," p. 222, and The Cosmic Mountain, pp. 51-53. The meaning of dd
is uncertain; however, the verb gly (uncovering or rolling back, cf. Hebrew rby)
fits a tent flap perfectly, as proposed by Conrad L'Heureux in Richard J. Clifford,
"The Tent of El and the Israelite Tent of Meeting," CBQ 33 (1971): p. 222, and
The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (Cambridge, 1972): p.
52. In CAT 19.IV.213-14, ddis parallel to ahl. The proposed domed-shaped tent
for dd arises from the supposed Semitic cognates "mountain" (Akkadian Sadu)
and "breast" (Hebrew TC). Note also the breast-shaped Egyptian tents in figure
14 (see Frank M. Cross, Jr., Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, p. 55 n. 43).
However, Marvin H. Pope, "The Status of El at Ugarit," UF 19 (1987): pp. 21930, remains unconvinced by Clifford, arguing that in CAT 1.19.IV.213-214 dd
is parallel not to ahl, but rather to bhlm "in here." See also Pope, El in the

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

95

The tent frames25 of the king, father of years.26

El's tent is further attested in a Hittite fragment from Bogazkoy,


which apparently records a Canaanite myth involving El (here
Elkunirsa).27 Lines 5-7 of the tablet read:
na-as A "-Vna-a-la har-um-na-aa-ar[-a]
[na-a3 A-NA] Del-ku-ni-ir-a A Da-e-er-tum L^MU-DI-SU a-a[r-a]
[na-a-kan SA] Del-ku-ni-ir-a GIZA.LAM.GAR-a an-da pa-it
He [Baal] came to the source of the Euphrates; he came to Elkunirsa,
the husband of Asherah. He entered the tent (ku-us-ta-ru) of Elkunirsa.28

Ugaritic Texts, p. 66. Less appealing is Edward Lipiriski's translation of dd as


"'horror' in the sense of a horrifying thing" based on Arabic dawd (defense,
protection) and dada (to drive away, repel, defend) ("El's Abode," pp. 65-66).
25
El's qrs appears to be a case of metonymy. A relationship clearly exists
between Ugaritic qrs and the Hebrew Bible's D'tOTj?, despite Marvin Pope's
hesitancy (El in the Ugaritic Texts, VTS 2 [Leiden, 1955]: pp. 67-68). Pope's
proposed Semitic parallels such as Arabic karasa (freeze, congeal) and Akkadian
qarasu (split) seem less attractive in comparison, although the latter may relate
to the construction of tent-frames. For Arabic karasa as a cognate, see Andre
Parrot, Le "Refrigerium" dans I'au dela (Paris: 1937): p. 19, and Edward Lipinski,
"El's Abode," OLP 2 (1971): p. 66. For a tent shrine at Mari which uses qrs, see
pp. 179-81. Possibly, just like the Tabernacle's n-^hj? (Exod 26:19), the qrS of
El's tent may rest on pedestals in CAT 1.3.IV.16-17, as claimed by Charles
Virolleaud, La deesse 'Anat (Paris, 1938), and followed by Umberto Cassuto,
Commentary on Exodus, trans, from Hebrew by I. Abrahams (Jerusalem, 1967):
p. 323. This text, however, is reconstructed.
26
CAT 1.4.IV.23-24; 1.6.1.34-36; and 1.1.III.23-24 (with a 3rd person m.s.
subject rather than 3rd pl.); partially reconstructed in CAT 1.5.VI. 1-2;
1.17.VI.48-49. See also CAT 2.III.5 and 3.V.15-16.
27
Heinrich Otten suggests Elkunirsa may be the Hittite spelling of West
Semitic '/ qn 'rs (El, creator of earth) in "Ein kanaanaischer Mythus aus
Bogazkoy" Mitteilungen des Instituts fiir Orientforschung 1 (1953): pp. 138-39.
28
Translation by Harry A. Hoffner, Jr., in "The Elkunirsa Myth Reconsidered," RHA 76 (1965): p. 8. Hoffner suggests that El's abode here
corresponds to Ugaritic qrs rather than to ahl, but this is unlikely, given that
Akkadian kuStaru is the most frequent designation for "tent." For convenient
translations of the text, see ANET, 3rd edition, p. 519; Harry A. Hoffner, Jr.,
Hittite Myths, Second Edition (Atlanta, 1998): pp. 90-92. For text and
commentary, see also Heinrich Otten, "Ein kanaanaischer Mythus aus
Bogazkoy," pp. 125-50.

96

CHAPTER SEVEN

In Hittite culture proper, the "Great Assembly" convened in a


tent, and an altar was set up within the divine tent along with a
stele.29 Moreover, a tent stood at the Hittite temple's gate and is
once said to have resided within "the house."30
Thus, while no evidence of a "Tabernacle" dedicated to El has
been discovered at Ugarit, El clearly lives in a tent in the world of
myth.31 Nevertheless, in addition to the tent-related designations
for El's abode, it is also called a mtb (dwelling), a mzll (shelter)
and even a bt (house) and a hkl (temple).32 These difficulties have
led some scholars to see a confluence of two traditions: an archaic
one where El dwells in a tent, and a newer stratum where El dwells
in a permanent house.33 This is unnecessary given the ambiguity
of domicile designations previously discussed: in the Hebrew
Bible, the Tabernacle and other tents are frequently designated ira
and sometimes 'wn. Moreover, intra-Ugaritic evidence points in
the same direction: the Aqhat legend calls El's abode bt five
times, and in the same passage it is designated dd//qrs.34
The appellations mskn, ahl, and the wooden qrs supports are
not the only similarities between El's tent and the Tabernacle.
29
KUB 35:1:14ff. See Moshe Weinfeld, "Institutions in the Priestly Source,"
Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies, V (Jerusalem,
1983): p. 104 nn. 5 and 42.
30
IBOT III 148:11:61 ff. See Moshe Weinfeld, "Institutions in the Priestly
Source," p. 104, who points out the ramifications of this Hittite tent in a house
for Richard E. Friedman's theory that the Tabernacle stood in the Temple (see
below, pp. 167-71).
31
It is noteworthy, however, that permanent temples dedicated to Dagon and
Ba'al have been found at Ugarit, but no shrine of El. Perhaps El possessed his
own "tent of the appointed time."
32
El's mtb and mzll are found in CAT 1.4.1.13-19; 1.4.IV.52-57 and CAT
3.V.47-48. ~bt is used of El's abode in CAT 1.17.1.32-33; II.4-5, 21-22;
1.114.12. The word hkly is used in the text of CAT 1.21.8, although it is not
entirely clear who owns this temple. Some reconstruct h]kl[k] in CAT 1.3.V.21,
where Anath seems to be ordering El not to rejoice. But this must be a tent in any
case, as ddllqrS appears 12 lines earlier.
33
See for example E. Theodore Mullen, Jr., The Divine Council, p. 139, who
states that the Aqhat text (CAT 1.17) "obviously contains a mixing of
traditions." Frank M. Cross, Jr., Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, p. 43, sees
"uneven layers of tradition." Richard J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain, p. 54,
argues that within the Ba'al cycle (CAT 1.1-11), El lives in a tent, whereas in the
Aqhat legend and CAT 1.21, the situation is more confused.
34
CAT 1.17.VI.48-49. Another option would be that it is a tent within a
palace, paralleling Richard E. Friedman's idea that the Tabernacle resided within
the Jerusalem Temple (see pp. 167-71).

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

97

They are both elaborate in form and furnishings. Each is large


and consists of more than one room, as in one passage El is said
to reply from the "seventh room //eighth enclosure."35 El's tent
is furnished with fittings cast (ysq} from gold and silver, as well as
a throne (kht), footstool (hdm), couch (n't), and table (tlhri), all
built by the divine craftsman Kothar.36 Yahweh appoints Bezalel
and Oholiab to construct similar furnishings for the Tabernacle.37
El's tent apparently hosts the divine assembly (phr m'cf), where
the gods of Ugarit gather and engage in politics.38 Clearly there is
a link between Ugaritic mfd and the Tabernacle's most common
epithet, irib *7n "tent of assembly/appointed time."39 Richard J.
35
CAT 1.3.V.11, 26-27; see E. Theodore Mullen, The Divine Council in
Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature, p. 134.
36
CAT 1.4.1.33-39. The text states they are built by hyn, an appellation of
Kothar. See William F. Albright, "The Furniture of El in Canaanite Mythology,"
BASOR 91 (1943): pp. 39-44. Albright further suggests Ugaritic n'l >il be
translated "litter of El," and the following line's yblhm hrs "two golden poles,"
mirroring the two gold-covered poles used to transport the Ark (Exod 25:13-15).
Cf. Theodor H. Caster, "The Furniture of El in Canaanite Mythology," BASOR
93 (1944): pp. 20-23, who argues against Albright, preferring the reading
"shoes of El" for n'l 'il and "pours over with gold" for yblhm hrs.
37
Bezalel and Oholiab are commissioned in Exod 35:30-36:1; although they
are humans, they receive a divine spirit. While Yahweh does not explicitly
command in Exodus that a throne or footstool be built, Yahweh's common
epithet "enthroned on the cherubim" (1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Kgs 19:15; Isa
37:16; Pss 80:1; 99:1; 1 Chr 13:6) makes it likely that the two golden cherubim
on the mercy seat serve as a throne (Exod 25:18-22) from which Yahweh
governs (Exod 25:22; Num 7:89). The Ark is called a footstool (DTI) in 1 Chr
28:2 (cf. Pss 99:5; 132:7), the same name used of El's furniture. Moreover, in all
six of its occurrences in the Hebrew Bible, nnn refers to the footstool of Yahweh.
Yahweh, like El, requires a table (p^tti) in the shrine (Exod 25:23-30), an element
of Canaanite anthropomorphism which the Israelites apparently retained. There
is, however, no bed in P's Tabernacle, although Samuel sleeps in the shrine at
Shilohjust where and upon what is unspecified (1 Sam 3:3).
38
This expression (phr m'd) occurs five times in CAT 1.2.1.14-31. For a list
of post-Ugaritic Canaanite evocations of the Divine assembly, see Richard J.
Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament, pp. 45-46. On
the Mesopotamian divine assembly, see Thorkild Jacobsen, "Primitive
Democracy in Mesopotamia," JNES 2 (1943): pp. 159-72.
39
Frank M. Cross, "The Priestly Tabernacle in the Light of Recent
Research," p. 173; Richard J. Clifford, "The Tent of El and the Israelite Tent of
Meeting," pp. 223-25; The Cosmic Mountain, pp. 43-48; E. Theodore Mullen,
The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature, pp. 128-75. The
earliest known use of the word m'd for a political assembly is in the Tale of
Wenamun, where the prince of Byblos summons his mw'd to confront a
foreigner. See John A. Wilson, "The Assembly of the Phoenician City," JNES 4

98

CHAPTER SEVEN

Clifford argues that the Priestly source retained the archaic title
"tent of meeting "/"tent of the appointed time" for the Tabernacle, simply substituting Yahweh's meeting with Moses for the
convocation of the entire Canaanite pantheon.40 Like Yahweh's
use of the Tabernacle as the setting for his decrees, so too El mandates from his tent.41 El lives in a tent situated on a mountain, and
it is on top of Sinai that Moses is shown Yahweh's celestial dwelling (rnrin).42
There is evidence from Ugarit that El is not alone in inhabiting
a tent shrine. Following a divine assembly, all the gods retreat to
their tents and tabernacles in CAT 1.15.III.17-19:
tbrk ilm tity
tity ilm lahlhm
dr il Imsknthm

The gods bless (i.e., say farewell), they go


The gods go to their tents
The circle of El to their tabernacles.

(1945): p. 245; Hans Goedicke, The Report of Wen Amun (Baltimore, 1975): p.
123
40
Richard J. Clifford, "The Tent of El and the Israelite Tent of Meeting,"
225-27; The Cosmic Mountain, pp. 43-48. William H. C. Propp in a private
communication points out another sign of archaism: it is always IUTO "7n, never
jyion bn with a definite article.
41
The early notion of a tent of assembly as the source of Yahweh's decrees
can be found in the JE texts Exod 33:7-11; Num 11:16-30; 12:4-10. E. Theodore
Mullen, The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature, p. 171,
points out that in these passages Yahweh's theophany occurs at the door of the
tent of the appointed time, corresponding to El standing in his tent shrine to
address Anath in CAT 1.3.V.26-27. For Yahweh governing from His tent in the
Priestly source, see Exod 25:22; Num 7:89. El sends forth decrees from his tent
in CAT 1.1.IV.13-20; 1.2.1.36-37, V.33-35; 1.6.1.43-65. For further discussion, see E. Theodore Mullen, The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early
Hebrew Literature, pp. 139-50.
42
For El's mountain abode, see CAT 1.1.III.23; 1.2.1.20, discussed by
Richard J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament, pp.
34-57, Mark S. Smith, "Mt. // in KTU 1.2.1.19-20," UF 18 (1986): p. 458, and
Marvin H. Pope, El in the Ugaritic Texts, pp. 61-72. The celestial Tabernacle is
revealed in Exod 25:9, 40. Note that Yahweh's abode is not the mountain top
itself, but above it, as Yahweh comes down to Mt. Sinai, while Moses climbs
up.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

99

Elsewhere, Kothar departs for his tent (ahl), also called a


tabernacle (ms&n).43 Further evidence for Ugaritic divine tent
dwellings comes from Ba'al's complaint that he is without a
house.44 While no tent shrine is explicitly in Bacal's custody, it can
be assumed that he and his daughters live in El's tent prior to the
construction of Baal's temple. Alternatively, and based on
ethnographic parallels, El would have had his won tent or tents,
and his daughters would have separate tents. Also, tents are not
limited to the divine realm in Ugaritic literature: Anath's
henchman ytpn presumably lives in a military camp consisting of
several tents.45 Lastly, Kirta prepares for a journey by sacrificing
a lamb and a bird in a tent (hmi), mirroring the sacrifices
conducted within and in front of the Tabernacle.46

Portable Shrines of Phoenicia and Carthage: The Literary


Evidence
The association between El and his portable sanctuary discovered
at Ugarit is perhaps furthered by Philo of Byblos, who translated
into Greek a Phoenician history ascribed to Sanchuniathon.47
Philo records that a portable shrine drawn by oxen (vaov
^uyo^OpOUlievov) carried the image of one of the first
primordial humans, named AypOU cHp(*)<T "Hero of the Field" or
AypOTT]^ "Rustic." 48 Philo goes on to say that this individual,
especially among the inhabitants of Byblos, is venerated as the
greatest of the gods. Most likely he is the Canaanite god El. El's
43

CAT 1.17.V.32.
For example see CAT 1.3.IV.1-9; 1.3.V.46-52; 1.4.1.10-19.
45
CAT 1.19.IV.50-60.
46
CAT 1.14.III. 159-162. The meaning of Ugaritic hmt can be deduced from
Arabic and Ethiopic hymt, both meaning "tent."
47
Philo of Byblos's Phoenician History survives in fragments cited in the
fourth-century C.E. work of Eusebius of Caesarea, Praeparatio Evangelica. For
the Greek text and English translation with notes, see Robert A. Oden, Jr., and
Harold W. Attridge, Philo of Byblos: The Phoenician History, CBQMS 9
(Washington, DC, 1981), and Albert I. Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of
Philo of Byblos: A Commentary (Leiden, 1981). The date of Sanchuniathon's
original history is disputed, with estimates ranging from the second millennium
B.C.E. to the Persian period, as discussed by Oden and Attridge, pp. 6-9, and
Baumgarten, pp. 42-51.
48
Eusebius, PE, 1.10.12-13
44

100

CHAPTER SEVEN

relationship with Byblos is well established,49 and AypOU cHp()<:


"Hero of the Field" might be a Greek form of the Semitic epithet
^m ?, "God of the field."50 Philo's second name for the deity,
AypOTf|C "rural," possibly mirrors the Ugaritic epithet dldy mr't
(who controls the meadow), although this is far less certain.51 In
49
Philo himself states that El (=Kronos) founded Byblos, the world's first
city (Eusebius, PE 1.10.20). For El's frequent appearance on Byblian coinage,
see Z. Sawaya, "Cronos, Astarte: deux legendes pheniciennes inedites sur des
monnaies de Byblos," Bulletin de la Societe Franqaise de Numismatique 53 (Mai,
1998): pp. 93-99.
50
This correspondence has long been recognized. See Heinrich Ewald, "Abhandlungen uber die phOnikischen Ansichten von der Weltschopfung und den
geschichtlichen Wert Sanchuniathons," Abhandlungen der koniglichen
Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen 5 (1851): pp. 1-68, and M. Ernest
Renan, "M6moire sur 1'origine et le caractere veritable de 1'histoire Phenicienne
qui porte le nom de Sanchoniathon," Memoires de L'institut Imperial de France
23 (1858): pp. 241-334, esp. 268. For ntf = -ra/rrra (field), see Manfred
Weippert, "Erwagungen zur Etymologic des Gottesnames 'El Saddaj," ZDMG 3 6
(1961): pp. 42-62. Associating no with <rra/rrra long proved a barrier for many
scholars, including William F. Albright, "The Names Shaddai and Abram," JBL
54 (1935), pp. 183-84, and Frank M. Cross, Jr., Canaanite Myth and Hebrew
Epic, pp. 52-60, who prefer separate etymologies: *tdw for jo (cf. Akkadian
.sadu=mountain), and *3dw for (n)Tto/nip. Thus vrcj b would best be translated
"God of the mountain," or "El, the mountain one." David N. Freedman, "The
Refrain in David's Lament Over Saul and Jonathan," Ex Orbe Religionum 21
(1972): p. 122, and more recently, William H. C. Propp, "On Hebrew s'dde(h),
'Highland,'" VT 37 (1987): pp. 230-36, have pointed out several instances in
the Hebrew Bible where (n)-ra/nsu is best translated "highland." Moreover, Propp
proves that Akkadian Sadum is in fact related to Hebrew rrip, thereby damaging
Weippert et al.'s connection of ""to with TO/ma?, assuming the regular
development of the sibilant (i.e., we would expect *$) b rather than *JD "?).
Nevertheless, a relationship between "nto and ^/rrro may still exist if the
sibilant developed irregularly in Hebrew. Philo could reflect the same confusion
about the two roots, and in Phoenician especially there is only one $1$, not two
as in Hebrew. Consequently, it remains possible to equate El's epithet Sadday
with Philo's "Hero of the Field."
51
As suggested by L. R. Clapham, "Sanchuniathon: The First Two Cycles,"
Harvard University Dissertation (1969): pp. 117-19. Cf. R. du Mesnil du Buisson, Etudes sur les dieux pheniciens herites par l'Empire Romain (Leiden, 1970):
pp. 46-53, who identifies Philo's Aypoi) 'HpGJ? or AypOTn? with Jupiter
Heliopolitanus (=Baal) based primarily upon two Syrian representations of
Jupiter Heliopolitanus flanked by two bulls. Baal's association with bulls
permeates Canaanite mythology and iconography; nevertheless, Philo's statement that oxen transport the deity's image is no reason to prefer Baal over El, as
the animals available to draw a portable shrine were limited. El, too, owns the
epithet tr "Bull" (e.g. CAT 49.IV.34; VI.26-27). Furthermore, to equate AypOU
c
HpG)<T or AypOTn? with Jupiter Heliopolitanus, du Mesnil du Buisson (pp. 5051) must take "Byblos" as meaning "all Phoenicia," because Jupiter

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

101

any case, Philo provides evidence that a portable shrine conveyed


an image of a god, likely El, throughout Phoenicia.52 The
Tabernacle, while seemingly much larger than this Phoenician
abode, also housed Israel's chief deity and was transported by
oxen.53
A further parallel stems from the first century B.C.E. Greek
historian Diodorus of Sicily. Diodorus appears to mention a tent
shrine while describing a Carthaginian military campaign against
Libya. He remarkably refers to a sacred tent ('lepav OKf|Vr|V)
with a nearby altar in the center of the Carthaginian camp.54 It
seems that a sudden blast of wind brought fire from the altar onto
the sacred tent, which was engulfed in flames and rapidly spread
fire to the other tents in the camp. However, the parallel to the
Tabernacle is not as perfect as some would have it. Most
commentators fail to point out that Diodorus states that the tents
burned rapidly because they were composed of reed (KO(Xo([iOl))
and straw (XOpTOU). 55 Diodorus's word for the structure, OKf|Vfj,
was used in this period for both tents and booths.56 Consequently,
it seems the shelter was a hut and not a true tent. Even so,
Diodorus records that the Carthaginians, like the Israelites in the

Heliopolitanus's cult was not centralized at Byblos, but 100 kilometers east (p.
50). See also Albert I. Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos,
p. 171, who rejects du Mesnil du Buisson's identification of Jupiter Heliopolitanus but maintains that Aypou cHpU)<T or Aypoin? represents Baal in some
form, because of a Latin inscription from Timna mentioning Beelseddi,
identified with Jupiter. Yet, this by no means rules El out as the likely candidate
for Philo's deity. It only means that the epithet was used in a wider context than
previously thought. For a critique of Baumgarten's use of Semitic sources and
identification of deities, see Edward Lipinski, "The 'Phoenician History' of
Philo of Byblos," Bibliotheca Orientalis 40 (1983): pp. 306-308.
52
Philo's word for the sanctuary, VCXOV, also refers to portable shrines in
Herodotus 2.63 and possibly in Diodorus of Sicily 1.15.
53
Num 7:3 and 1 Sam 6:7.
54
XX.65.1
55
See for example Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The Priestly Tabernacle," p. 218,
who mentions the Carthaginian sacred tent without commenting on its
construction.
56
The early word for booth, KXLOtn, seems to go out of use after Homer.
Following the Persian period, OKnvr] becomes an inclusive word for portable
architecture, see note 42. Notice also Diodorus of Sicily XX.25, where OKf)vr| is
used for a covering on a wagon.

102

CHAPTER SEVEN

desert, maintained a portable sanctuary with an altar nearby within


their military camp.57
Further evidence for Phoenician portable sanctuaries is
provided by Concerning the Syrian Goddess, a work attributed to
the second century C.E. satirist Lucian of Samosata.58 In
describing the temple of the Syrian city Hierapolis (modern
Manbij), Lucian mentions that it is a bipartite sanctuary oriented
east.59 This recalls both the Tabernacle and the Temple of Israel.
He further describes a puzzling structure placed in the inner
sanctuary between figures of Hadad and Atargatis.60 The structure
is called a Of|[ir|LOV , which means a symbol or mark by which a
thing is known. Lucian writes that the structure is taken on a
journey twice annually in a religious procession to carry water
from the Mediterranean back to the temple.61
Portable Shrines in Phoenicia, Syria, and Judea: Pictorial
Evidence
In addition to the written testimony discussed above, further
evidence of Phoenician portable shrines comes from various
coins, the most famous from Sidon.62 On ten different Sidonian
coins we find a two-wheeled cart, with four poles supporting what
appears to be a tent roof, at times with palm branches emanating
from it (Plate 28).
Centered in the portable shrine is an oval object, at times
flanked by horns and/or winged sphinxes. The identity of this
57

Elaborate Phoenician tents, albeit secular, also turn up in the Histories of


Herodotus (VII. 100.2), who mentions that Xerxes reviewed his fleet in a
"Sidonian ship and sat under a golden tent." Perhaps this is comparable to the
ornate Phoenician ships described in Ezekiel 27, discussed below (pp. 146-47).
58
On the Phoenician nature of the Hierapolitan cult described by Lucian, see
Philip C. Schmitz, "Phoenician Religion," ABD V, pp. 357-363, and Robert A.
Oden, Jr., Studies in Lucian's De Syria Dea (Missoula, 1977): pp. 146-49.
59
Concerning The Syrian Goddess, 30-31. For the Greek with English translation see Harold W. Attridge and Robert A. Oden, Jr., The Syrian Goddess
(Missoula, 1976).
60
Concerning the Syrian Goddess, 33. Hadad is identified with Zeus, Atargatis with Hera. Atargatis seems to be a combination of Semitic 'Astarte, cAnat,
and 'Aserah.
61
Concerning the Syrian Goddess, 33.
62
George F. Hill, Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Phoenicia (Bologna,
1965): pp. 175-86, plates 23.9-12, 17; 24.5-9.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

103

object and the shrine's deity remains uncertain. Many argue that
the shrine contains a betyl dedicated to Astarte.63 Perhaps related
is the fallen star consecrated by Astarte in Tyre, mentioned by
Philo of Byblos,64 and Astarte's prominence at Sidon is also well
documented.65 Yet, at times the oval object more strongly
resembles an urn, seen most clearly in Plate 29a, where carrying
bars replace the wheels.66 If the object is an urn, then Lucian's
enigmatic water-carrying Of|[ir|LOV , as well as the laver wagons in
1 Kgs 7:27-39, are called to mind.67
Similar portable shrines with wheels transported deities such as
Demeter and Hercules, as depicted on other coins (Plates 29b,
29c).68 A Greek inscription likewise records that an image of

63

George F. Hill, Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Phoenicia, pp. 175-86,


Martin J. Price and Bluma L. Trell, Coins and Their Cities (London, 1977): p.
216, and Mathias Delcor, "Astarte," Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae
Classicae III.l (Munchen, 1986): pp. 1077-85. The identification with Astarte
is most fully treated by Henri Seyrig, "Antiquites syriennes: divinites de Sidon,"
Syria 36 (1959): pp. 48-56, who argues that this is a pictorial representation
not of Astarte's shrine at Tyre, but rather of Astarte's shrine at Sidon, mentioned
in Lucian's Concerning The Syrian Goddess, 4. Seyrig maintains the Astarte
identity based on the occasional presence within the shrine of sphinxes, which
he claims are always "les acolytes d'Astarte dans cette region" (p. 50). Yet there
are several representations of male deities flanked by sphinxes, as pointed out
by Eugene D. Stockton ("Phoenician Cult Stones," Australian Journal of
Biblical Archaeology 2 [1974-1975]: pp. 8-9). Sebastien Ronzevalle disassociates the object from Astarte altogether, preferring solar deities, "Le
pretendu char d'Astarte", Melanges de I'Universite S. Joseph, 16 (1932): pp. 51
ff.
64
Eusebius, PE 1.10.10.31-32.
65
Lucian mentions Astarte's shrine at Sidon in Concerning the Syrian Goddess, 4. For thorough documentation, see Robert A. Oden, Jr., Studies in
Lucian's De Syria Dea, pp. 76-81.
66
See Martin J. Price and Bluma L. Trell, Coins and Their Cities, fig. 40.
67
Against Robert A. Oden, Jr., who argues from representations on a pair of
coins that Lucian's orpr|LOV consists of a caduceus within a vaulted shrine
(Studies in Lucian's De Syria Dea, pp. 109-55, figs. 1-2). For a connection
between the object on Sidonian coinage and the temple laver-wagons, see
Wolfgang Zwickel, "Die Kesselwagen im Salomonischen Tempel," UF 18
(1986): pp. 459-61.
68
For a description of three coins from the reign of Marcus Aurelius depicting the procession of Heracles, see Felix De Saulcy, Numismatique de la Terre
Sainte (Paris, 1874): pp. 387-92, and Charles Clermont-Ganneau, "L'Heracleion
de Rabbat-Ammon Philadelphia et la deesse Asteria," Recueil d'Archeologie
Orientale 1 (1905): pp. 147-55.

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Hercules was paraded around the city in a four-pillared, canopied,


horse-drawn cart at Philadelphia in the second century C.E.69
Early rabbinic sources suggest that the chests containing the
sacred Torah scrolls were also portable.70 Such a Torah ark seems
to be depicted on a wall relief from the fourth century C.E.
synagogue at Capernaum (Plate 30).71 The structure is portrayed
in three dimensions: the front consists of a double-door beneath a
semicircular half rosette; the side is represented by five Ionic
columns and a base with four wheels, only two of which are
depicted. The structure is covered by a curved roof, composed of
an indeterminate material. Consequently, it is not clear whether
the wheels support a shrine of cloth, vegetation, or stone.72 A
similar Ark-wagon, this one clearly tented by red cloth, exists on
the plaster-paintings of the Dura Europos synagogue (Plate 31).
Several other tented wagons have been found in the material
record, often millennia earlier than the Phoenician, Syrian, and
Jewish examples. One such item is the EB covered wagon from
Tepe Gawra in Iraq (Plate 32a).73

69

The inscription dates to the reign of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
See Charles Clermont-Ganneau, "L'Heracleion de Rabbat-Ammon Philadelphie
et la deesse Asteria," pp. 147-55.
70
E.g., Mishna, Ta'anith 2:1, where the Torah ark is brought from the
synagogue to the center of the city during droughts. Other passages include
Tosefta, Megillah 3:21, where the ark is left in the street, and to a lesser extent
b. Sotah 39.b, where the Torah scroll is removed from the synagogue, perhaps
inside an ark.
71
See Stanislao Loffreda, "Capernaum," NEAEHL 1:294. The interpretation
of the Capernaum frieze as a Torah ark seems sound, based on non-wheeled
parallels depicted on the Beit Alpha mosaic and a relief from the synagogue at
Bukeia. For depictions and discussion of these Torah arks and their inherent
portable nature, see Eleazar L. Sukenik, Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and
Greece (London, 1934): pp. 33; 52-54; plate 5c, and "Did the Synagogue of
Capernaum Have a Fixed Torah-Shrine?" Kedem 2 (1945): pp. 121-22 (Hebrew).
72
The striking similarity between this Torah ark and the earlier-mentioned
portable shrines on coins, especially one not shown here minted in Ephesus,
seems to show deliberate imitation, as suggested by Stanley A. Cook, The
Religion of Ancient Palestine in the Light of Archaeology (London, 1930): p.
215.
73
Ephraim A. Speiser, "Preliminary Excavations at Tepe Gawra," AASOR 9
(1927-1928): pp. 34-35, figs. 97, 102. This parallel to Capernaum's Torah ark
was also noted also by Stanley A. Cook, The Religion of Ancient Palestine in
the Light of Archaeology, p. 215.

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105

Here upon the four-wheeled cart stands either a booth or a tent,


as the clay markings indicate a covering consisting of matting or
fabric. This covered wagon, found in a context with a miniature
bed, a two-wheeled chariot, and various animal figurines, was
interpreted by the excavators as votive in nature.74
Egyptian Funeral Tents
Additional information concerning Near Eastern tent shrines can
be culled from the historical and material records of ancient
Egypt, where tents play a large role in the funerary cult. The
corpse was transported westward across the Nile in a tented boat
and then placed in the "tent of purification," where bodies were
washed and ritually purified in preparation for later mummification.75 This tent of purification is typically called }ibw in
Old Kingdom records, but it is also commonly referred to as "the
god's tent" (sh ntjr) when used to embalm royalty.76 The latter
term came to replace }ibw after the Old Kingdom, and became
incorporated into a common title of Anubis: "Presiding over the
god's tent." 77 Further evidence for a tent of purification comes
from the Book of the Dead, which orders that the embalming
must take place in a tent of cloth (sh hbs).1B Tomb paintings
portray these tents as long, broad-room structures facing east, with
many vertical poles supporting a long horizontal top-pole (Plate
32b).79
74

Ephraim A. Speiser, "Preliminary Excavations at Tepe Gawra," pp. 34-35.


For detailed studies of the "tent of purification," see Bernhard Grdseloff,
Das dgyptische Reinigungszelt (Cairo, 1941); Selim Hassan, Excavations at
Giza IV (Cairo, 1943): pp. 69-102; Ahmed A. Youssef, "Notes on the
Purification Tent," ASAE 64 (1981): pp. 155-57, and James K. Hoffmeier, "The
Possible Origins of the Tent of Purification in the Egyptian Funerary Cult,"
Studien zur altdgyptischen Kultur 9 (1981): pp. 167-77.
76
Bernhard Grdseloff, Das dgyptische Reinigungszelt, pp. 39-40. Cf. Selim
Hassan, Excavations at Giza IV, p. 78, and James K. Hoffmeier, "Possible
Origins," p. 168, and "Tents in Egypt and the Ancient Near East," p. 19, who
claim the word sh sometimes signifies a hut, sometimes a tent. The practice of
ritually purifying the dead in a tent goes back at least to the 4th dynasty
(Hassan, pp. 69-102, and Hoffmeier, pp. 167-77).
77
Hassan, p. 78, and Hoffmeier, p. 173.
78
Spell 148. See James K. Hoffmeier, "Tents in Egypt and the Ancient Near
East," p. 19.
79
See also Aylard M. Blackman and Michael R. Apted, The Rock Tombs of
Meir V (London, 1953): p. 52, pis. 42-43 for further pictures. On the difficulty
75

106

CHAPTER SEVEN

Holes for these tent-poles have been found before various


necropolises.80 Like the Tabernacle, these tents were ritually
purified before use.81 Within these tents, the corpse was
eviscerated, anointed, embalmed, mummified, and the opening of
the mouth ceremony was conducted.82 These tents were
elaborately decorated, and often dyed red (Plate 33).83
At times they were painted with stars, and their entrance was
called "the doors of heaven."84 In Egyptian mythology, Re was
purified in the eastern sky and reborn with the sunrise, and some
have argued that the tent of purification is modeled after the
starry eastern sky.85 If so, then the Egyptian tent of purification,
like the Tabernacle, was a terrestrial replica, built from a model, of
a heavenly prototype (see pp. 131-32).
Not only were tents used to prepare the deceased for burial, but
Egyptian notables were at times buried with tents. At Deir el
Bahari, among the royal mummies was discovered a leather
funeral pall for Queen Isi em Kheb, mother-in-law to Jerusalem's
besieger Shishak (Plates 34-35).86 The tent is a mosaic composed
of thousands of pieces of gazelle hide, each dyed pink, yellow,
green, or blue.
Its function appears to have been as a covering on a funeral
bark, as boat models often depict similar forms and patterns.87 Isi
of reconstructing their form, see Etienne Drioton's review of Grdseloff in ASAE
40 (1940): p. 1009.
80
One set of holes, each 30 cm in diameter, was uncovered in front of the
valley temple of Khafre at Giza. Similar holes were found before the valley
temple of Pepi II at Saqqara. For further discussion, see Selim Hassan,
Excavations at Giza IV, p. 90.
81
Aylard M. Blackman and Michael R. Apted, The Rock Tombs of Meir V
(London, 1953): p. 50.
82
Warren R. Dawson, "Making a Mummy," JEA 13 (1927): pp. 40-49.
Bernhard Grdseloff, Dai agyptische Reinigungszelt, p. 17.
83
A red tent of purification depicted on a panel of the Ramesside coffin of
Khonsou can be seen in Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Ramses le grand
(Paris, 1976): pp. 201-02. Notice that in a nearby tent, Khonsou and Tamaket
watch Anubis prepare the former's corpse.
84
Edward Brovarski, "The Doors of Heaven," Or 46 (1977): p. 110.
85
James K. Hoffmeier, 'The Possible Origins of the Tent of Purification in
the Egyptian Funerary Cult," p. 176. On the solar aspects of the washing
ceremony, see Selim Hassan, Excavations at Giza IV, pp. 98-102.
86
See H. Villiers Stuart, The Funeral Tent of an Egyptian Queen (London,
1882). The tent now stands on display in Cairo's Egyptian National Museum.
87
See for example James E. Quibell, The Ramesseum (London, 1898): p. 9;

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

107

em Kheb's pall is composed of a central panel measuring 2.75 by


1.83 m, from which four flaps protrude. The entire fabric
measures 6.86 by 5.94 m, and when erected, the tent would stand
approximately 2 m tall (Plate 35).88
Unfortunately, the pall was discovered in a secondary context,
and as the tomb was badly looted, no remains of the tent frame
were discovered.
Also of interest is that among the four nested gold-plated
catafalques covering Tutankhamon's sarcophagus was found a
linen tent and wooden frame (Plates 36-39a; Figure 4).89
To date, little attention has been paid to this shrine, which lay
between the outer two gold-plated catafalques. As the exterior
shrine was roofless, the tent covering provided the outermost
ceiling. The tent consisted of several panels of coarsely-woven
brown linen sewn together and placed so the seams ran parallel to
the entrance, comparable to the Tabernacle of Exodus.90 These
panels were decorated with gilt bronze rosettes. The fabric's poor
state of preservation exemplifies the difficulty inherent in trying
to find tents in the archaeological record.91

plate 14, where a blue, red, yellow, and green pavilion covers the bark of Osiris
on a lintel dated to Rameses III.
88
H. Villiers Stuart, The Funeral Tent of an Egyptian Queen, p. 6. Note also a
decorated leather covering for a small wooden box (Heinrich Schafer,
"Lederbespannung eines Holzkastchens," ZAS 31 [1893]: pp. 105-07).
89
In Howard Carter, The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen II (New York, 1927): pp.
33, 43-44, 197, pis. 4, 36a; 55-56. Studies of the tent and frame remain to be
completed (Nicholas Reeves, The Complete Tutankhamun [London, 1990]: p.
101). For studies on the four catafalques, see Alexandre Piankoff, The Shrines of
Tut-ankh-amon, Bollingen Series 40.2 (New York, 1955).
90
No cotton was found in the material, which consisted of pure flax.
Alexander Scott, "Notes on Objects from the Tomb of King Tut-ankh-amen," in
Howard Carter's The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen, pp. 272-74
91
Alexander Scott, "Notes on Objects from the Tomb of King Tut-ankhamen," pp. 272-74. Though Carter and his team took initial steps to preserve
the fabric, it was irreversably damaged when it was left untreated and exposed
while Carter shut down his operation to voice his dissasitisfaction with the new
Egyptian Minister of Public Works, who had cancelled a planned visit of the
tomb by the wives of those on the expedition. After the work stoppage came to
an end, Carter blamed the Egyptian government for the tent-fabric's horrible
condition, and stated "Well, anyway, it's your pall, not mine, and it's the only
one in the world." See Nicholas Reeves, The Complete Tutankamun, p. 66; 101.

108

CHAPTER SEVEN

The tent's wooden frame consists of seven crossbars to support


the fabric's weight, and a front-hinged panel to facilitate entrance.
The frame measures 4.32 by 2.93 m, and is 2.78 m in height.92

Figure 4 - Tutankhamon's Tent Frame (drawing)

This wooden frame, as well as the more elaborate gold-plated


catafalques, provide some of the best parallels to the craftsmanship involved in creating the Tabernacle.93
A close parallel to Tutankhamen's tent and catafalques is
depicted on a papyrus showing the tomb of Rameses IV (Plate
39b). Four catafalques encase the coffin, and just inside the
outermost catafalque is a red line connecting four blocks in the
corners.94 The red line and the blocks are most likely a tent and
its bases. The sacred nature of the catafalques can be seen in their
92

Nicholas Reeves, The Complete Tutankamun, p. 101.


For the depiction of similar portable catafalques, see Norman de G. Davies,
Two Rameside Tombs at Thebes (New York, 1927): pp. 64-69, pis. 31b, 38,
where a catafalque is being constructed of similar proportions to the Tabernacle.
See also Theodore M. Davis, The Tomb of Queen Tiyi (London, 1910): p. 13,
pis. 31-38, and Torgny Save-Soderbergh, Four Eighteenth Dynasty Tombs
(Oxford, 1957): p. 5, pis. 4-5. Tutankhamen's catafalques had inscriptions to
facilitate their construction. See Alexandre Piankoff, The Shrines of Tut-ankhamon.
94
The lines of the proposed catafalques are depicted in yellow, seemingly
representing gold overleaf. The tent's covering may have been red, as indicated
by the red line. The tomb's dimensions suggest the tent is a cube measuring 10
cubits; see Howard Carter and Alan H. Gardiner, "The Tomb of Ramesses IV and
the Turin Plan of a Royal Tomb," JEA 4 (1917): p. 133.
93

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

10 9

presence in Amon's barque (Plate 40a) and in Tutankhamen's


funeral procession (40b).
Similar in nature to Tutankhamon's catafalque is a wooden
shrine with gold overlay belonging to Akhenaten's mother Tiye
(Plates 41a, 41b).95 The shrine consists of several wooden planks
linked together with mortises and tenons, composing a long-room
rectangular catafalque.
The Tent ofMin
Further Egyptian evidence concerning tent shrines comes from
the conical tent, referred to as a shut, associated with the Egyptian
fertility god Min.96 The structure consists of a tall central pole,
surrounded by four support poles, which lean against the central
pole significantly below the top (Plates 42, 43).97
The phallic form of Min's portable sanctuary does not
resemble the Tabernacle.98 However, it is interesting to note that
various traditions attest both Min's role as a nomadic deity and

95

The shrine was discovered in the enigmatic Theban Tomb 55 by Theodore


M. Davis in 1907. Originally, Tomb 55 and the wooden shrine seem to have
been constructed for Akhenaten's mother, Queen Tiye. However, this tomb also
apparently contained the mummy and canopic jars of Kiya, a secondary wife of
Akhenaten. The wooden shrine was partially dismantled and much of the gold
overlay was removed presumably when workers constructing the tomb of
Rameses K (located just above Tomb 55) discovered the earlier burial. See
Theodore M. Davis, The Tomb of Queen Tiyi (London, 1910), who maintains
that all of the objects in the tomb belong to Tiye; contrast Nicholas Reeves, The
Complete Tutankhamun (London 1990): pp. 20-21, who provides an excellent
summary of the controversy.
96
On the lack of a satisfactory etymology for shnt, see Alexander Badawy,
"Min, the Cosmic Fertility God of Egypt," Mitteilungen des Instituts far
Orientforschung 1 (1959): pp. 163-179. On Min's tent, see Irmtraut Munro, Das
Zelt-Heiligtum des Min, Miinchner Agyptologische Studien 41 (Miinchen,
1983). On Min's nature as a fertility god, see Hans Bonnet, "Min," Reallexikon
der dgyptischen Religionsgeschichte (Berlin, 1952): pp. 461-67.
97
The frame is depicted on the mortuary temple of Pepi II at Saqqara. The
central pole in this relief appears to be over 10 meters in height. See Gustave
Jequier, Le monument Juneraire de Pepi II (Cairo, 1938): pi. 12. See also Pierre
Lacau, "L'erection du mat devant Amon-Min," Chronique D'Egypte 55 (1953):
pp. 13-22, and Irmtraut Munro, Das Zelt-Heiligtum des Min, pp. 54-59.
98
Still, it is notable that the statue of Min was transported on a box-shaped
carrying-stand covered by red cloth; see Marie-Francine Moens, "The Procession
of the God Min to the /zf/w-Garden," Studien zur altdgyptischen Kultur 12
(1985): p. 71.

110

CHAPTER SEVEN

his archaism, some sources claiming he was Egypt's first deity."


Thus, as with Ugaritic El and Yahweh, the earliest Egyptian god
originally inhabited a tent sanctuary.
Other Egyptian Tent Shrines
Tent shrines were also used by the Egyptian upper class. In the
Report of Wenamun (c. 1100 B.C.E.), an Egyptian official
records his business vicissitudes along the Mediterranean coast.
During his voyages, Wenamun takes along a statue referred to as
"Amon-on-the-Road." When he finally gets situated at Byblos,
Wenamun erects a tent (3im\v) on the beach to house the idol.100
Thus, Egyptian officials on journeys seem to have brought their
religion along with them, in this case, a portable tent for an
idol.101 Similarly, when Akhenaten visited the site where he
intended to build a new capital, the divine king stayed in an 3im,
possibly resembling the red tent pictured in Plate 44.102
99
On Min as a deity for nomads, possibly originating in Punt, see Alexander
Badawy, "Min, the Cosmic Fertility God of Egypt," pp. 163-179; Claas J.
Bleeker, Die Geburt eines Gottes (Leiden 1956): pp. 34-40; Marie-Francine
Moens, "The Procession of the God Min to the /if/w-Garden," pp. 69-73; and G.
A. Wainwright, "Some Celestial Associations of Min," JEA 21 (1935): pp. 152170. On Min's archaism, see Moens, pp. 69-73; also Elise J. Baumgartel,
"Herodotus on Min," Antiquity 21 (1947): pp. 145-50, where she convincingly
claims that Herodotus's two mentions of Min (MlVOt), the first king to unite
upper and lower Egypt, refer to a deity and not a human (Histories II, 4; 99).
Moreover, Herodotus later claims that Pan, the Greek deity most often associated
with Egyptian Min, is in fact the very first god (Histories II, 145-46). Thus, the
first deity and uniter of Egypt is believed to have inhabited a tent. The case for
Min's archaism is furthered by Walter B. Emery, Excavations at Saqqara 19371938: Hor-aha (Cairo, 1937): pp. 4-7, pis. 14; 20-23, who lists occurrences of
the hieroglyph mn in the 1st dynasty. Both Narmer and Merneith use the title
"Min," and in the case of Merneith, the hieroglyph mn is actually enclosed in a
pavilion.
100 Wenamun 1.47-48. For convenient translations, see ANET 26; Miriam
Lichtheim, "The Report of Wenamun," The Context of Scripture, ed. William W.
Hallo (Leiden, 1997): pp. 90-91. Hans Goedicke, The Report of Wen Amun
(Baltimore, 1975): p. 48, surprisingly objects to the traditional reading of
"tent," because "a 'tent' is not a religious structure and thus would be a rather
inappropriate place for performing a ritual act to a deity." However, from such
passages as Sinuhe 110 and 145, the word clearly means tent, and a tent setting
for religious acts is certainly credible.
101
Phoenician traders also traveled with tents, as recorded in Skylax,
Periplus 112.
102
As inscribed in the Amarna Boundary stele. See Norman de G. Davies,
Rock Tombs of Amarna V (London, 1908): pi. 26.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

111

Much earlier than Akhenaton, a tent frame surrounding and


covering a bed is depicted in relief within the tomb of Mehu (Vth
Dynasty at Saqqara; Plate 45). This strongly resembles in form an
actual tent frame encased with gold that was found among the
furniture of Hetepheres, the mother of Kheops (Plate 46).103
Like the Tabernacle, Hetepheres's tent consists of gold-plated
woodwork employing tenon-mortise joints and reinforced corner
pieces. Also worth noting is the Leiden Magical papyrus, in which
Hathor is invoked to enter a tent, but here the tent seems to belong
to a noble woman giving birth.104 Birth in ancient Egypt, like
death, often took place in a tent.
Tent Homes of Egyptian Gods
One other New Kingdom text illustrates the Egyptian use of tent
shrines. In the "Contest of Horus and Seth," the Egyptian divine
council of Thirty, here misnamed the Ennead, quarrels. Following
some name-calling, the text reads "And they [gods] went to their
tents (}imw). The great god [Re] slept in his pavilion (s/*)."105 So
tents were inhabited by at least some of Egypt's pantheon.
Rameses 's Military Camp and the Tabernacle
Surprisingly, one of the most remarkable parallels to the Tabernacle and its court has been largely ignored: the military camp of
Rameses II at Qedesh.106 The four reliefs and corresponding writ103

George A. Reisner, William S. Smith, A History of the Giza Necropolis


II: The Tomb of Hetep-heres (Cambridge, 1955): pp. 23-27, pis. 5-10. For
similar tent poles see Kenneth A. Kitchen, "The TabernacleA Bronze Age
Artefact," Eretz-lsrael 24 (Jerusalem, 1993): p. 120.
104
Leiden Magical Papyrus 1.348.33.1. See James K. Hoffmeier, "Tents in
Egypt and the Ancient Near East," p. 17. For information on Egyptian birthing
tents, see Emma Brunner-Traut, Die altdgyptischen Scherbenbilder (Wiesbaden,
1956): pp. 67-69.
105
This text's relevance to the Hebrew Bible's expression "To Your Tents, O
Israel," will be explored below, pp. 265-71. For translations of the "Contest of
Horus and Seth," see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (Berkeley,
1976): p. 216, and ANET p. 15. For the Egyptian texts, see Alan H. Gardiner,
Late Egyptian Stories (Brussels, 1932): p. 41 (3,13).
106
Their similar form has occasionally been pointed out, but never fully
explored. Hugo Gressmann, Mose und seine Zeit (Gottingen, 1913): p. 241, uses
the reliefs to illustrate P's preference for placing the tent in the middle of the
camp. See also the short description in Gressmann, Altorientalische Texte und
Bilder zum Alien Testament II, 2nd edition (Berlin, 1927): p. 58, fig. 550.

112

CHAPTER SEVEN

ten sources of the battle of Qedesh portray a 2:1 rectangular


camp, the entrance of which is in the middle of the short wall
(Plates 10, 47, 48).107

Figure 5 - Comparison of Rameses II's Military Tent (Abu Simbel) with the
Tabernacle

Directly in the camp's middle lies the entrance to a 3:1 longroom tent, composed of a 2:1 reception tent leading to the square
Kenneth A. Kitchen explores the parallel in more detail but still briefly in "The
TabernacleA Bronze Age Artefact," p. 121 n. 21. For more detail on the
comparison, see Michael M. Homan, "The Divine Warrior in His Tent," BR 16.6
(2000): pp. 22-33.
107
Rameses's camp is depicted on four temple reliefs at Luxor, Abu Simbel,
and in duplicate at the Ramesseum. The primary written source, known as the
"Report," is inscribed alongside the temple-reliefs, as is the epic referred to as
the "Poem." On the battle of Qedesh and its sources, see James H. Breasted, The
Battle of Kadesh (Chicago, 1903); C. Kuentz, Bataille de Qadech (Cairo, 1928);
Raymond O. Faulkner, "The Battle of Kadesh," Mitteilungen des deutschen
archdologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo 16 (1968): pp. 93-111; and Hans J.
Polotzky, 'The Battles of Megiddo and Kadesh," The Military History of the
Land of Israel in Biblical Times, ed. J. Liver (Israel, 1973): pp. 17-26 (Hebrew).

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

113

throne tent of the pharaoh (Plate 49).108 Furthermore, we learn


from the Abu Simbel relief that the height of Rameses's tent
corresponds to its width. All of this matches the description of the
Tabernacle and its camp in Exodus 25-27 (Figure 5). Moreover,
Rameses's tent is oriented eastward.109 The pharaoh's golden
throne is flanked by falcon wings, just as the ark is flanked by
winged cherubim.110 The campaigning Egyptian army is divided
into four units, as Israel encamps and marches by four standards
according to Numbers 2.111 In sum, the military tent and camp of
108
Cf. James K. Hoffmeier, "Tents in Egypt and the Ancient Near East," pp.
18, 20, who views the reception tent as an awning supported by two poles,
protruding from the main square tent supported by five poles. That the Abu
Simbel relief (Plates 10 and 49) depicts events inside the reception tent,
however, need not mean that the tent's sides were left uncovered. Hoffmeier is
attempting to correlate Egyptian military tents and the Asiatic tents encountered
by Thutmoses III, whose troops carry off seven tent posts overlaid with silver,
two of which he claims supported an awning. However, the Abu Simbel relief
also shows the inside of Rameses's main tent-chamber, which even Hoffmeier
concedes was covered on all sides. In other words, we are dealing with an artistic
convention.
109
The eastern orientation is known from a short inscription in the upper
right-hand corner of the Ramesseum relief, which clearly states that the pursued
princes arrive on the west end of camp, the camp's backside. See James H.
Breasted, The Battle of Kadesh, pp. 35, 43, and Alan H. Gardiner, The Kadesh
Inscriptions of Ramses II (Oxford, 1960): pp. 36-37. The frequent expression
"waking in life in the tent of the pharaoh" signals the beginning of a new day,
as Rameses, the son of the solar deity, wakes with the sunrise. See Anthony J.
Spalinger, "Some Notes on the Battle of Megiddo and Reflections on Egyptian
Military Writing," MDIK (1975): p. 222. All of this disproves Julius
Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels, p. 37, who, following Graf,
argued that the Tabernacle's eastern orientation meant that it was a fixed
building, not a tent. On the eastward orientation of temples, see Th. A. Busink,
Der Tempel von Jerusalem I (Leiden, 1970): pp. 252-56. On the consistency of
the orientation of other tents, see Roger L. Cribb, "Mobile Villagers: The
Structure and Organisation of Nomadic Pastoral Campsites in the Near East,"
Ethnoarchaeological Approaches to Mobile Campsites (Ann Arbor, MI, 1991):
p. 380.
110
Rameses is described as sitting on his golden throne in the Qedesh Record
11:7-8; 14. The cartouche of the pharaoh flanked by falcon wings, or the wings
of Nekhbet, is a common Egyptian theme. For parallels, see Howard Carter, The
Tomb of Tutankhamen II, pi. 49; Alexandre Piankoff, The Shrines of Tut-ankhamon, pis. 19, 21, 24 , 50; and Henri Stierlin and Christiane Ziegler, Tanis
(Seuil, 1987): pis. 16-17, 22, 85, 92, 104. Cf. also an Arslan Tash ivory on
which two deities cover the sun god with their wings (Plate 64).
111
Raymond O. Faulkner, "The Battle of Kadesh," p. 93. On the form of the
Israelite camp in Numbers 2, see above, pp. 32-34, and Figure 2.

114

CHAPTER SEVEN

Rameses II at Qedesh constitute the best parallel to the Tabernacle


known to date.112
The significance of the parallel is great. Here is a tent shrine
for the living Egyptian god from the same time and area in which
the events in P purport to take place. The rectangular shape
shared by Rameses's camp and the Tabernacle is extraordinary;
most military camps are elliptical.113 Admittedly, these are our
only pictorial representations of an Egyptian military camp.
Certainly P is not basing the Tabernacle's disposition on an
Egyptian model knowingly. Rather, P is reconstructing based on
historical records in his possession that pictorially or verbally
describe an earlier Israelite tent-shrine.114
The Egyptian military's influence on the Hebrew Bible has
been shown in the similar records of Joshua 1-11 and the Annals
of Thutmoses III.115 The influence was by no means uni-

112

On the accuracy of the reliefs, see G. A. Gaballa, Narrative in Egyptian


An (Mainz, 1976): pp. 113-19, who notes that "the traditional theme of a
pharaoh dominating and overshadowing the scene was sacrificed for the sake of
an overwhelming and impressive representation of the battle as a whole." For
further possible examples of Egyptian influence on Israelite public architecture,
see Paolo Matthiae, "Some Notes About Solomon's Palace and Ramesside
Architectural Culture," Vicino Oriente 1 (1997): pp. 117-30; Kenneth A.
Kitchen, 'Two Notes on the Subsidiary Rooms of Solomon's Temple," EretzIsrael 20 (1989): pp. 107-12; Th. A. Busink, Der Tempel von Jerusalem, pp.
566-70; Ronald J. Williams, "A People Come Out of Egypt," VT Sup 28 (1975):
pp. 234-39.
113
See above, p. 62. Even later Abassid military camps were typically ovoid
in shape. See Mas'udi, The Meadows of Gold: The Abassids (London, 1989): p.
315.
114
Thutmoses III, for example, also inhabits a tent on his several military
campaigns (see above, p. 60). The shape of the camp is unknown, but a brief
description begins with the camp being set up, goes to the pharaoh's tent, and
then to the pharaoh himself (Urk IV, 655.15-656.13). Seven centuries after
Thutmoses III, Xenophon, Cyropaedia, VIII.v.3, describes the Persian military
camp, where Cyrus's tent is placed in the middle and oriented eastward (see
above, pp. 71-73). The Roman army used both rectangular and square camps,
with the general's praetorium in the center (see Plate 19a). See Yann H. Bohec,
The Imperial Roman Army (London, 1994): pp. 131-133, pis. 27, 33. Fora
picture of a rectangular Bedouin camp of about 19 tents, see Gustaf Dalman,
Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina, vol. 6, pi. 12.
115
James K. Hoffmeier, "The Structure of Joshua 1-11 and the Annals of
Thutmose III," Faith, Tradition and History, Alan R. Millard, James K.
Hoffmeier, David W. Baker, eds. (Winona Lake, IN, 1994): pp. 165-79.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

115

directional, as the Egyptian lexicon contains various military titles


of Semitic origin, including mhr, mskb, and nfr.116
The close correspondence between the Tabernacle and
Rameses's camp heightens Yahweh's role as a warrior god.117
The verbal descriptions of Yahweh as divine warrior have been
well documented.118 Suffice it to say that Yahweh fights for Israel
in Exodus 14-15, owns the tools for war in Deut 32:41-42, and is
even called a man of war (nQn'pQ on*) in Exod 15:3 and a warrior
(nran'pa TQ?) in Ps 24:8. Yahweh alone defeats the entire enemy
army, much as Rameses boasts to have done at the battle of
Qedesh.
Other elements of the Israelite desert sanctuary mirror what
little is known about ancient military camps. The pillar of fire and
cloud by which Yahweh guides the Israelites may have a military
basis, as Alexander the Great notified his troops when to move
camp by placing a signal of smoke by day and fire by night upon
a pole.119 The Priestly source regularly calls the Israelite tribes in
116
Alan R. Schulman, Mhr and Mskb, Two Egyptian Military Titles of
Semitic Origin," Zeitschrift jur dgyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 92
(1966): pp. 123-32. Alan H. Gardiner, The Kadesh Inscriptions of Ramses II, p.
37, discusses the Egyptian euse of the Canaanite term anal for Egyptian soldiers
in the Kadesh inscription. For Egyptian loanwords in the Tabernacle pericope,
see Joshua M. Grintz, "Ancient Terms in the Priestly Laws," Leshonenu 39
(1975): pp. 5-20, 163-80.
117
Similarly, Ugaritic divine tents may have a military aura. El is not the
decrepit old god of passivity; he too is a warrior. See Patrick D. Miller, "El the
Warrior," HTR 60 (1967): pp. 411-31, and Frank M. Cross, Jr., Canaanite Myth
and Hebrew Epic, p. 40.
118
See Frank M. Cross, Jr., Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, pp. 91-111;
Patrick D. Miller, Jr., "El the Warrior," HTR 60 (1967): pp. 411-31; The Divine
Warrior in Early Israel, HSM 5 (Cambridge, MA, 1973); and for a full treatment
of Yahweh's military role in the Exodus, Millard C. Lind, Yahweh is a Warrior
(Scottsdale, PA, 1980): pp. 46-64.
119
Quintus Curtius, History of Alexander 5.2.7. This parallel, along with
cognate signaling methods used by Islamic armies, was noted by 19th century
scholars, including August Knobel, Die Bticher Exodus und Leviticus (Leipzig,
1857): p. 134. Andre Dupont-Sommer later dismissed the parallel due to the
unspectacular nature of such a utilitarian practice, "Nubes tenebrosa et
illuminans noctem," RHR 125 (1942-43): p. 10. More recent commentaries
ignore the parallel of Alexander's camp altogether, tending to explain the
cloud/fire pillar by natural phenomena such as a volcano (Martin Noth, Exodus
OTL (Philadelphia, 1962): p. 109), a desert whirlwind, or sacrificial smoke
(Alan Cole, Exodus Tyndale OT Commentary [Leicester, 1973]: p. 118). The
notable exception is William Propp, Exodus 1-18, p. 489. On fire and cloud

116

CHAPTERSEVEN

the wilderness mas "armies,"120 a term normally used for


Yahweh's army of stars (e.g. 1 Kgs 22:19; Neh 9:6; Ps
103:21)P is demythologizing here. Moreover, implements of
the Israelite camp such as trumpets and standards, and the way in
which the camp is disassembled and carried, all correspond to
ancient Near Eastern military practice.121 Lastly, the connection
between Israelite religion, tents, and the military is seen in David's
placing his armor, and Goliath's severed head, in his tent (1 Sam
17:54), just as Rameses II stores his armor in a tent.122 Soon
thereafter we discover that Goliath's sword is kept in linen behind
the ephod, presumably within the Tabernacle.123
Mesopotamian Tent Shrines and 10 Big Qersufrom Mari
Mesopotamia also provides evidence concerning tent shrines and
portable sanctuaries. One example comes from the "Curse of
Agade," a lament at the destruction of the city of Nippur and its
main temple Ekur. Enlil, the chief of the pantheon and god of
Nippur, does not take this lying down. He constructs a reed
sanctuary (TUR.TUR) which includes a holy of holies (itima).124
But this structure is temporary until his temple can be rebuilt; the
fact that he resides in a reed sanctuary is seen as wholly
negative.125 Tent shrines may appear in pictorial reliefs, the most
battle theophanies by ancient Near Eastern deities, see Moshe Weinfeld, "Divine
Intervention in War in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East," History,
Historiography, and Interpretation (Jerusalem, 1983): pp. 131-36.
120
E.g., Num 1:3; 10:15-16, etc.
121
Num 10:1-10 describes the trumpets, expressly said to be used to summon
the congregation, for breaking camp, and for war. For pictorial representations
of similar trumpets, see Hans Hickmann, La trompette dans I'Egypte ancienne
(Cairo, 1946): figs. 4, 15, and 21. The Roman Army set up camp by first
erecting the praetorium and then radiating outward (Polybius, VI.VI.27-42).
122
This is the armor Rameses races to put on once he hears of the enemy
breach. See James H. Breasted ARE III, pp. 147-48. Note earlier discussion of
valuables and booty stored in tents, p. 76.
123
1 Sam 21:9. Also note the placement of Saul's armor in a Philistine
temple (1 Sam 31:10).
124
Curse of Akkad, 194, 209. Thorkild Jacobsen renders itima as "holy of
holies" in The Harps that Once . . . (New Haven, 1987): p. 371. Cf. Jerrold S.
Cooper, The Curse of Agade (Baltimore, 1983): p. 253, who prefers
"bedchamber." For a convenient translation, see ANET pp. 646-51.
125
See Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "Temporary Temples," kinattutu Sa dardti,
Raphael Kutscher Memorial Volume (Tel Aviv, 1993): p. 39.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

117

famous example showing an enthroned sun deity covered by a


tent (Plate 50a).126 The sun disk seems to be transported by an
anthropomorphized form of the solar tent. This pavilion parallels
the base and foundation of a canopied structre discovered just
inside the ciety gate at Tel Dan in Israel (Plate 50b).127
Stronger parallels to the Tabernacle come from the 18th
century B.C.E. cuneiform tablets from Mari, where several texts
mention tents (hurpatum).12* One of these is said to be supported
withlO qe-er-su, a word etymologic ally linked to the qrs of El's
tent at Ugarit and the Tabernacle's D^tthj?.129 The qersu at Mari
are large, each requiring two men for transport.130 The ritual
association of the qersu is strengthened in another Mari text:
u4-um gi-im-ki-im
qe-er-su-u
is-sa-ak-ka-nu
AN$E di-da-ak
DINGER^ue-nu-ttum]
i-na li-ib-rbi qe-ern-si
us-s'-u DINGIR-lum a-na bi-ti-su
LUGAL a-n[a] E.[GAL- s]u i-la-ak
"On the day of gimkum, qersu are set up. A donkey is killed. The
gods and their paraphernalia depart from the qersu. [Each] deity goes to
his temple, and the king goes to his palace."
(FMIII.4.ii.7-14)131

126

Walter Andrae (ed. B. Hrouda) Das wiedererstandene Assur, 2nd ed. (Munich, 1977): pp. 153 ff., fig. 29.
127
Avraham Biran, Biblical Dan (Jerusalem, 1994): pp. 238-41.
128
Mari's close association with tent-dwelling pastoralists has been well
documented. See Victor H. Matthews, Pastoral Nomadism in the Mari Kingdom
(ASORDS 3; Cambridge, MA, 1978).
129
M. 6873. J. -M. Durand and M. Guichard, "Les rituels de Mari, in
Florilegium Marianum III, D. Charpin and J. -M. Durand, eds., (Paris, 1997):
pp. 65-66. On the irregular phonetic correspondance, see Daniel E. Fleming,
"Mari's Large Public Tent and the Priestly Sanctuary," VT 50.4 (2000): 484-98.
The Tabernacle's D'fflTp are examined below, pp. 137-47.
130
Daniel E. Fleming, "Mari's Large Public Tent," 484-98.
131
Originally transliterated in Florilegium Marianum III; expanded in Daniel
E. Fleming, "Mari's Large Public Tent," 484-98.

118

CHAPTER SEVEN

The qersu at Mari are erected for a donkey sacrifice, after which
the gods depart from these same qersu.132 Also of interest is the
verb sakdnum, here used to setting up the qersii, and used
nominally at Ugarit for El's tent (mskri) and in the Priestly
Tabernacle's most frequent appelation: p0&.133
A Midianite Tent Shrine in the Negev
The only certain material remains of an ancient Semitic tent
shrine come from Timna, a frequently-used site for the extraction
and production of copper in the Negev Desert (Plate 51a).134
Here Egyptian miners beginning in the 19th dynasty (1320-1200
B.C.E.) constructed an open-roofed shrine to the goddess Hathor
by carving a niche into the sandstone cliff and constructing three
walls around it.135 Abandoned for a century, the Hathor shrine
was reused and slightly expanded in the 20th dynasty.136 Then,
the Egyptian presence at Timna suddenly disappeared in the 12th
century B.C.E., due at least in part to an extensive earthquake that
destroyed much of the site.137 However, shortly after the Egyptian
132

Florilegium Marianum HI 4 ii 7-14. Daniel E. Fleming, "Mari's Large


Public Tent," 484-98.
133
On Ugarit's mskn, see pp. 94-99; on the use of pwp for the Tabernacle,
see pp. 11-12.
134
Copper mining at Timna began possibly as early as the Chalcolithic
period and continues to the present day. See Beno Rothenberg, Timna (London,
1972): pp. 18, 24-62.
135
Beno Rothenberg's terminus ante quem for the Egyptian temple comes
from an inscription bearing the name of King Seti I (1313-1292 B.C.E.), the
founder of the 19th dynasty (Timna, p. 130). Rothenberg's theory that the
initial shrine was open-roofed (Timna, pp. 131-32) arises from the absence of
roofing material at the site, as well as the natural protection offered by the large
cliff comprising the northwestern wall. This sandstone cliff belongs to the socalled "King Solomon's Pillars," a name popularized following Nelson Glueck's
identification of the site, The Other Side of the Jordan (Cambridge, MA, 1970):
pp. 59; 91-94. However, Beno Rothenberg's excavations have revealed no
remains from the 10th century, and in fact the site was unoccupied from the
second half of the 12th century until the Roman Period. See Beno Rothenberg,
"Les mines du roi Salomon," Bible et Terre Sainte 25 (Jan 1960): pp. 4-10.
Moreover, 1 Kgs 7:64 states that the majority of Solomon's copper implements
were cast far to the north in the Jordan Valley.
136
The expansion consisted of extending the side walls from seven to nine
meters. Beno Rothenberg, Timna, p. 131-32.
137
This seems to have occurred during the reign of Rameses V (1160-1156
B.C.E.). While the names of every Egyptian king of the 19th and 20th dynasties
were found at Timna, Rameses V, the final king of the 20th dynasty, was the

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

119

withdrawal, the temple was briefly reoccupied by Midianite


miners, who significantly altered the previous shrine.138
An aniconic tradition is suggested in that hieroglyphic
inscriptions were effaced and votive offerings were removed from
the temple.139 Stone sculptures of Hathor, which had apparently
occupied the central niche, were removed from the shrine and
replaced by a single copper serpent.140 A row of ni3ij& was
erected along the southwestern wall. It was behind this row of
standing stones, as well as along the facing wall, that masses of
textile were uncovered. The thick fabric consisted of a well-woven
mixture of flax and wool. It was dyed varying shades of red and
yellow, and had beads woven into the fabric.141 The material's
function as a tent covering for the shrine was confirmed when two
stone-lined pole holes were discovered piercing into the earlier
Egyptian floor (Plate 51b).142 In addition, several wood fragments
were discovered in the Timna temple, mostly acacia.143 The tent

latest discovered (Beno Rothenberg, Timna, p. 163; for a discussion of the


earthquake, see pp. 149, 201).
138
Beno Rothenberg identifies this people as Midianite based on the large
concentration of Midianite pottery, which increases dramatically in the 13-12th
centuries B.C.E.; see Beno Rothenbeg and Jonathan T. Glass, "The Midianite
Pottery," Midian, Moab, and Edom, John Sawyer and David Clines, eds.
(Sheffield, 1983): pp. 65-124. Rothenberg further theorizes that Midianite
workmen were employed by the Egyptian mining campaigns at Timna;
following the Egyptian withdrawal from the area, the workmen returned to the
mine for a brief period and appropriated the temple (Rothenberg, Timna, pp.
151-163). See also Rothenberg, "i?mn nypaa nman anpo," pro ay-Lari2r Series 19
(Tel-Aviv, 1983-84): pp. 85-122.
139
Beno Rothenberg, Timna, p. 151.
140
The serpent measures 12 cm in length, has a gilded head, and calls to mind
the Hebrew Bible's ^m: built in Num 21:8-9 and destroyed in 2 Kgs 18:4. See
Beno Rothenberg, Timna, pp. 152, 173, 183. One of the Hathor stelae was
effaced, overturned, and reused as a nasn (Rothenberg, Timna, p. 150).
141
Beno Rothenberg, Timna, p. 151. For a thorough study of the tent fabric
and other Timna materials, see Avigail Sheffer and Amalia Tidhar, "Textiles and
Textile Impressions on Pottery," The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna, ed. B.
Rothenberg (London, 1988): pp. 224-32, pis. 133-34. They suggest that the red
dye, most likely from the roots of Rubia Tinctorium, increased the rate of
disintegration.
142
Beno Rothenberg, Timna, p. 151.
143
Ella Werker, "Wood," The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna, ed. B.
Rothenberg (London, 1988): pp. 232-35.

120

CHAPTER SEVEN

shrine was short-lived, however, as the site was permanently


abandoned in the second half of the 12th century.144
The Midianite tent shrine provides many parallels to the
Tabernacle and other cultic implements as described in the
Hebrew Bible. There was a red tent, likely supported by acacia
wood poles, covering a sacred area featuring nnsn. All around
were found a large number of animal bones, mostly goat.145
Semitic Names, Sacred Tents, and a New Etymology for Aaron
There are five names in the Hebrew Bible incorporating the root
*7n, expressing the connection between tents and the sacred.
Oholiab (zm^rm) means "the (divine) father is my tent," befitting
Oholiab's occupation of building the Tabernacle and its cultic
implements.146 The wife of Esau and an Edomite chief share the
name Oholibamah (nM^rm), "tent of the high place."147 Also,
without a theophoric element are the names of two metaphorical
sisters in Ezekiel: Oholah "tent-woman" representing Samaria,
and Oholibah "my tent is in her" representing Jerusalem.148
Lastly, Ohel C?rm) "tent" is the name of Zerubbabel's son.149
Extra-biblical evidence adds a few parallels. A bulla from the
City of David includes the personal name ^n. 150 Nearby on Mt.
Zion, a seal was discovered in a burial cave with the name ^nfcr&n

144

Beno Rothenberg, Timna, p. 152.


On the general use of nnso, see Dale W. Manor, "Massebah," ABD IV, p.
602. The most notable niasn in the Israelite material record come from the 10th
century shrine to Yahweh at Arad. See Yohanan Aharoni, "Arad: Its Inscriptions
and Temple," BA 31 (1968): pp. 2-32. The animal bones are recorded in Beno
Rothenberg, Timna, p. 176. Na'avah Panitz-Cohen called to my attention a pink
fabric fragment discovered during the 1990 season at Tel Beth Shean Area S,
possibly used for a tent-related covering. The stratum dates to the llth century
B.C.E.
146
Jeaneane D. Fowler, Theophoric Personal Names in Ancient Hebrew,
JSOTSS49 (Sheffield: JSOT, 1988): pp. 80-81, 162, and Martin Noth, Die
israelitischen Personennamen (Stuttgart, 1928): p. 158. Cf. the etymology of
Oholiab's supervisor Bezalel: "in the shade/protection of El." For references to
Oholiab, see Exod 31:6; 35:34; 36:1-2; 38:23.
147
Gen 36:2, 5, 14, 18, 25, 41; 1 Chr 1:52.
148
Ezekiel 23.
149
1 Chr 3:20.
150
Yigal Shiloh, "A Group of Hebrew Bullae from the City of David," IEJ 36
(1986): p. 29, no. 29.
145

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

121

"My (divine) father-in-law is a tent."151 Four Phoenician names


likewise show that tents played a large role in religion: 'hi "tent,"
'hlmlk "the (divine) king is a tent" or "the tent of the (divine)
king," gr'hl "tent dweller," and >hlbcl "Baal is a tent/Baal's
tent."152 Further afield, relevant Sabaean names likewise have
been found: 'hl'l "El is a tent/El's tent" and }hl 'ttr "cAthtar is a
tent/'Athtar's tent."153 Finally, Lihyanic }hlbn "son is a tent"
illustrates the widespread nature of names incorporating tents.154
The biblical name Aaron (prm) may also ultimately be derived
from Semitic ^n. 155 Past attempts to solve the question of
Aaron's etymology have been unconvincing. Scholars seeking
solutions from Semitic roots have fared poorly, finding only a
rare Syriac cognate (Vw) which means "libidinous/lascivious."156
Others link Aaron's name to the sacred ark (pn), claiming the
definite article n through metathesis became the second root
letter,157 or that in derives from TIN" shine," much like im
from ~m "shine."158 Scholars have done slightly better with
Egyptian etymologies, as this would fit other Levitical names from
Egypt such as Moses, Phinehas, and Hophni.159 Among proposed
151

David Davies and Amos Kloner, "A Burial Cave of the Late Israelite Period
on the Slopes of Mt. Zion," Qadmoniot 41 (1978): pp. 18-19 (Hebrew).
152
For 'hi see Joseph Naveh, "Phoenician Ostraca from Tel Dor," in Solving
Riddles and Untying Knots, Fs. J. C. Greenfield; Z. Zevit, S. Gitin, M. Sokoloff,
eds. (Winona Lake, IN, 1995): pp. 461-62. For the others, see Frank L. Benz,
Personal Names in the Phoenician and Punic Inscriptions (Rome, 1972): pp. 60,
262.
153
Joseph Halevy, Inscriptions sabeennes (1872): 46.2; C///434.1, 547.1.
See also Gonzaque Ryckmans, Les noms propres sud-semitiques, tome I:
Repertoire analytique (Bibliotheque du Museon 2; Louvain, 1934): pp. 27-28.
154
Berhard Moritz, "Edomitische Genealogien," ZAW 44 (1926): p. 87.
155
See Michael M. Homan, "A Tensile Etymology for Aaron: 'ahdron <
'ahdlon," BN 95 (1998): pp. 21-22.
156 \vilhelm Gesenius, Thesaurus Philologicus Criticus Linguae Hebraeae et
Chaldaeae Veteris Testamenti (Leipzig, 1829): p. 33.
157
Eduard Meyer, Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstdmme (Halle, 1906): pp.
93-94. Some argue that a title "sons of the ark" Cpn ^3) became "sons of Aaron"
Cprn* ^a), resulting in the personification of Aaron. See William H. Bennett,
Exodus, Century Bible (London, 1908): p. 63.
158
William H. C. Propp, Exodus 1-18, p. 213.
159
Hence, John R. Spencer writes, "The meaning of the name 'Aaron' is
uncertain, although it is perhaps derived from Egyptian," in "Aaron," ABD I, p.
1. For the Egyptian derivation of many Hebrew Bible names, see Martin Noth,
Die israelitischen Personennamen, pp. 63-64.

122

CHAPTER SEVEN

Egyptian etymologies are "Great is the name" ('3 rri) or


"Horus" (/wr).160 In the absence of an easy etymology, we are
driven to the farfetched.
An explanation that better fits Aaron's occupation as
maintainer of the Tabernacle is that his name is simply an
Egyptianized form of Semitic ^rtN with an adjectival or diminutive
suffix -on; hence, firm would mean "tent-man." 161 The Egyptian
language, in the absence of an "1" sound, replaced foreign " 1"
with "r". Thus the name Israel is represented as ysr'ir on the
Merneptah stele, and Ptolemy is rendered ptwrmys on the Rosetta
stone. There are multiple recordings of 3hr for "tent" in Egyptian
records beginning in the New Kingdom.162 Furthermore, among
the many Egyptian names of Semitic derivation exists an 18th or
19th dynasty stable master named 'aharaya, which means either
"Yahweh is a tent," or simply "tent." 163 Finally, we find the
name }hln (tent-man) on a Thamudic rock inscription.164
Strengths of this etymology are a name corresponding to Aaron's
duties and an Egyptian derivation similar to his fellow Levites.
Also, the name Aaron, like Moses, was not adopted into the
Hebrew onomasticon until postbiblical times, suggesting foreign
origins. However, we must admit that there are no other examples
160 For the "great is the name" etymology, see I. Hosl, Zur orientalischen
Namenkunde: Maria - Moses -Aaron. Eine philologische Studie (Leiden, 1952):
p. 85. However, the disappearance of an 'ayin in transcription is not probable.
For a review of other even less likely Egyptian candidates, including "Horus"
(this necessitates an unplausible conversion of a het into a heh\ see Manfred
Gorg, "Aaronvon einem Titel zum Namen?" BN 32 (1986): pp. 11-17, who
derives the name Aaron from an Egyptian title meaning "Overseer."
161
On the adjectival use, see Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, 2nd English
edition (Oxford, 1910); on the diminutive, see Jacob Barth, Nominalbildung in
den semitischen Sprachen, [Leipzig, 1894]: pp. 348-49). Hebrew comparisons
include yffiTN (little-man), ]frsvj (adder), ]nrra (new-moon), and pre (necklace).
162
James E. Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and
Third Intermediate Period (Princeton, 1994): p. 31.
163
The -ya suffix may bear no independent meaning, as shown by the many
Eblaite -ya names. On the Egyptian name 'aharaya, see Thomas Schneider,
Asiatische Personennamen in dgyptischen Quellen des Neuen Reiches OBO 114
(Freiburg, 1992): pp. 105-06. For the interchange of prw and ^nK, compare
Hebrew ]itOQ4B/'t?D!U, both from tins "sun." For other examples of Egyptian names
from Semitic origins, see Raphael Giveon, The Impact of Egypt on Canaan,
OBO 20 (Gottingen, 1978): pp. 15-21.
164
Antonin Joseph Jaussen, Mission archeologique en Arable II (Paris,
1914): p. 583. The inscription was found near 'el-Hebou 'esh-Sarky near Teima.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

12 3

in the Hebrew Bible where a Semitic word, altered by a foreign


language, reentered the original language as a borrowing.
Making Tents in the Temple? Further Evidence for Tent Shrines
Among the many reforms attributed to Josiah is the enigmatic
statement in 2 Kgs 23:7: "He tore down the ritual houses (?)
which were in the house of Yahweh, where the women were
weaving (nirm) there houses (DTO) for Asherah." While we have
seen the ambiguity of "house" in Hebrew, the root riK is used
only in the manufacturing of things tensile.165 The passage
suggests that prior to Josiah's reforms, the Temple was being used
as a production center for tent shrines.
Tent-like Temples: Jerusalem, Tayinat, Ain Dara, and Arad
The Iron Age temples in Jerusalem, Tayinat, Ain Dara, and Arad
constitute the last remaining parallels to the Tabernacle to be
explored here. Much has been written on the similarities between
the Solomonic Temple described in 1 Kings 6-7 and P's
Tabernacle. The identical 3:1 ratio of length to width, the eastern
orientation of a long-room structure, and the retention of the
Tabernacle cultic implements including the Ark, Menorah, altars
of incense and burnt offerings, table of showbread, and the laver,
all indicate that, at least for P's reconstruction of early Israelite
history, when the cult center ceased being mobile, much of the
religion was perpetuated in Solomon's newly founded Temple.166
These shared features were among the main pieces of evidence
used by Wellhausen to argue the Priestly Tabernacle's
fraudulence.167
The many differences between the two structures have
frequently gone unnoticed, however. The most obvious is that one
is a portable tent and the other a permanent temple. Moreover, the
Temple's height of 30 cubits is three times that of the Tabernacle,
while the length and width are twice the Tabernacle's.168
165

Note Exod 28:32; Isa 19:9 and rm "loom."


See Menahem Haran, "Shiloh and Jerusalem," JBL 81 (1962): pp. 14-24.
167
Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels, p. 45.
168
As pointed out by Richard E. Friedman, "Tabernacle," ABD VI, p. 296;
"The Tabernacle in the Temple," BA 43 (1980): p. 241; and Who Wrote the
Bible? (New York, 1989): pp. 182-87. This refutes Wellhausen's claim that the
166

124

CHAPTER SEVEN

Additional features, such as the Temple's extra rooms, porch,


molten sea, basins, and stands have no precedent in the
Tabernacle. The twin pillars at the Temple's entrance, which
figure prominently in Solomon's and Ezekiel's Temples, are
absent in the Tabernacle.169 Also the Temple has a total of ten
lampstands (five north and five south) according to 1 Kgs 7:49,
whereas the Tabernacle has only one. All of these features show
the two structures to be not so similar after all. If P modeled the
Tabernacle on the Temple, why did he do such a poor job of
copying?
Complicating the question is the fact that the exact forms of
both the Tabernacle and the Temple are uncertain.

Priestly Tabernacle is a half-size Temple. Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "The Form


and Fate of the Tabernacle: Reflections on a Recent Proposal," JQR 86 (1995):
p. 139, claims that the 2:1 ration from Temple to Tabernacle still works if one
counts, not the 30 cubit height of the Temple, but the 20 cubit height of the
Temple's holy of holies. Yet, the holy of holies' length and width are irrelevant
in the supposed 2:1 ratio, which is based on the entire Temple.
169
1 Kgs 7:15-22; Ezek 40:49.

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

125

Figure 6 - Three-, Two-, and One-Room Floor Plans of Solomon's Temple

Most interpret the structure described in 1 Kings 6 as tripartite,


consisting of the chw (porch), the birn (room), and the Tin (holy
of holies).170 This three-part division of a long room temple finds
a close correspondence in a 9th century B.C.E. temple at Tell
Tayinat in northern Syria (Plate 52).171 Here too we find an
eastern orientation, twin pillars at the entrance, and an adjacent bit
fyilani palace, all mirroring the description of Solomon's building
endeavors. However, while the parallels of Tayinat's temple to the
170

This tripartite model is followed by William F. Albright, Archaeology


and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore, 1942): pp. 142-155, G. Ernest Wright,
"The Stevens Reconstruction of the Solomonic Temple," BA 18 (1955): pp. 4144, Yigael Yadin, "The Fourth Season of Excavations at Hazor, BA 22 (1959):
pp. 2-8, Kurt Mohlenbrink, Der Tempel Salomos (Stuttgart, 1932), and Andre
Parrot, Le temple de Jerusalem (Neuchatel, 1954).
171
Calvin W. McEvan, "The Syrian Expedition of the Oriental Institute of
the University of Chicago," AJA 41 (1937): pp. 8-9; Th. A. Busink, Der Tempel
von Jerusalem I, pp. 558-62. David Ussishkin, "Solomon and the Tayinat
Temples," IEJ 16 (1966): 104-10.

126

CHAPTER SEVEN

Jerusalem Temple are remarkable, there is little in common with


the Tabernacle aside from the long room layout and orientation.
Another structure with several parallels to Solomon's Temple is
the Iron Age temple at Ain Dara, excavated in the early 1980's
(Plate 53).172 It is a tripartite long-room structure with twin
columns in the portico, and it is surrounded by side-chambers, as
is the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kgs 6:5). However, it shares little in
form with the Tabernacle.
Others have separated the D^IK from the temple proper (see
Figure 6's two-room model), yielding a bipartite plan for
Solomon's Temple which does match the most common
reconstructions of the Tabernacle.173 Yet, the variations in size,
dimensions, the twin pillars, and side rooms continue to
distinguish the two structures.
More extreme is the interpretation of the Temple as a oneroom building, demoting the Tin from a separate room to
furniture.174 The 'nan temples at Shechem and Megiddo are
arguably similar, as they are composed of one room with a central
niche. Nevertheless, Ezekiel 40:49 clearly describes a wall between
the ^zpn and the Tin, and a wooden cube measuring 20 cubits in
all three dimensions is hardly "furniture." 175 Still, the 10th
century B.C.E. temple at Arad consists of a single room sanctuary,
and, next to Rameses IFs camp and Tutankhamon's funeral tent,
the Arad Temple more closely mirrors the Tabernacle than any
structure known to date.176
172

All Abu Assaf, Der Tempel von 'Ain Dara (Damaszener Forschungen 3;
Mainz, 1990); John Monson, "The New 'Ain Dara Temple," BAR 26.3 (2000):
20-35, 67.
173
See Yohanan Aharoni, 'The Solomonic Temple, the Tabernacle and the
Arad Sanctuary," Orient and Occident ed. Harry Hoffner (Neukirchen, 1973): pp.
1-2, 7, who separates the Q'JIK, creating a two-room structure with a third adyton
demarcated by a curtain.
174
Hermann Schult, "Der Debir im salomonischen Tempel," ZDPV 80
(1964): pp. 46-54, and Martin Noth, Konige (Neukirchen, 1968): pp. 105 ff.,
note 11.
175
As pointed out by Amulf Kuschke, "Der Tempel Salomons und der
'syrische Tempeltypus,'" Das Feme und Nahe Wort, Fs. L. Rost (1967): pp. 12432.
176
See Yohanan Aharoni, "Arad: Its Inscription and Temple," BA 31 (1968):
pp. 2-32; "The Solomonic Temple, the Tabernacle, and the Arad Sanctuary," pp.
1-8. The Arad temple seems to be a Yahwistic cult center, yet cf. Shmuel Yeivin,
American Academy for Jewish Research Proceedings 34 (1966): pp. 152 ff., who

TABERNACLE PARALLELS

12 7

The Arad temple is oriented with the entrance east and the holy
of holies west (Plate 54a). Just in front of the Arad temple's
entrance was a stone altar measuring five cubits in both length and
width, the exact size of the Tabernacle's altar.177 Two niniJQ were
found in the adyton (Plate 54b), and a stone basin was discovered
nearby, similar in function to the Tabernacle's bronze laver.178
The temple at Arad measures 20 by 6 meters, which corresponds
to the reconstruction of the Tabernacle by Aharoni and Friedman,
where the frames overlap.179 Furthermore, Friedman's model of a
one-room Tabernacle, where the nzhs is not a room divider but a
canopy over the ark, matches Arad's one-room plan.180 Yet, there
exists one major difference between the Arad temple and the
Tabernacle: Arad's temple is a broad-room structure.181
Aharoni's theories that the Tabernacle at Shiloh was a broadroom tent, and that the Priestly author moved the entrance 90
degrees to fit the Temple, seem forced.182 The Tabernacle, like its
Egyptian parallels, was a long-room tent.
believes the Arad temple belonged to foreign mercenaries.
177
Exod27:l.
178
Exod 30:18.
179
First pointed out by Yohanan Aharoni, "Arad: Its Inscription and Temple," p. 25 and "The Solomonic Temple, the Tabernacle, and the Arad
Sanctuary," p. 4, and expanded upon by Richard E. Friedman, "Tabernacle," ABD
VI, pp. 292-300, "The Tabernacle in the Temple," 241-48. Note that the main
chamber of the Solar Shrine at Lachish also has the same measurements, in Olga
Tufnell, Lachish III (London, 1953): p. 121. This model of the Tabernacle, in
which the frames overlap, will be explored below, pp. 247-54.
180
Richard E. Friedman, "Tabernacle," ABD VI, p. 295, "The Tabernacle in
the Temple," pp. 244-45. The similarities between the Arad sanctuary and the
Tabernacle are excessively stressed by Jorge L. da Silva, who uses the shared
features to date P's Tabernacle descriptions to the tenth century B.C.E. (The
Implications of the Arad Temple for the Question of Dating P [Ann Arbor,
1992]).
181
Th. A. Busink, Der Tempel von Jerusalem, 593-94.
182
Yohanan Aharoni, "The Solomonic Temple, the Tabernacle and the Arad
Sanctuary," p. 7, and a more tentative argument in "Arad: Its Inscriptions and
Temple," p. 25. Aharoni is followed by Th. A. Busink, Der Tempel von
Jerusalem, p. 595. Busink's evidence is scant, however, consisting of 1 Sam
1:9-10, where Hannah goes to Shiloh's tent and prays "before the Lord," and 1
Sam 3:3, which states that Samuel was lying down in Shiloh's "temple of
Yahweh, where the Ark of God was." Aharoni and Busink infer that the Ark was
not separated from the Tabernacle's main room. But these passages make sense
also with a raia understood in the traditional way as a veil dividing between the
two rooms, and furthermore they show at best only that the Shiloh Tabernacle

128

CHAPTER SEVEN

Thus, all attempts to render P's Tabernacle as a portable copy


of the Temple, be it one-, two-, or three-roomed, are problematic.
Syro-Palestinian temples thus far unearthed, with the exception of
the Arad sanctuary, shed little light on the Priestly Tabernacle's
form and authenticity. And, even the Arad sanctuary differs
considerably from the Tabernacle, leaving the Tabernacle's form
without an indisputable parallel in temple architecture.
The many parallels to the Tabernacle examined in this chapter
support the historicity of an early tent shrine for ancient Israel.
The following chapter explores the Tabernacle's historicity, form,
and fate.

was a single room. They shed no light whatsoever on its being a broad-room
structure.

CHAPTER EIGHT
THE TABERNACLE: HISTORICITY, FORM, FATE
The likelihood of the Tabernacle's existence
was strengthened in the previous chapter by
examining the many examples of tent shrines
from the Near East. Now we turn to its manner
of construction. It will be shown that the
Tabernacle's Q'tthp, if understood as thin boards
rather than thick frames, make construction
and transportation
feasible. The many
reconstructions of the Tabernacle will be
summarized and evaluated, and the theory that
the Tabernacle came to reside within the
Temple will be explored. Finally, a new model
is proposed for the Tabernacle, based on
realistic form and craftsmanship of ancient
Near Eastern tents and wooden shrines.

The Actuality of the Tabernacle


The Tabernacle does not seem to be the "copy" of the Temple,
as argued by Wellhausen.1 The many differences between the two
structures, as well as the tent shrine parallels accumulated in the
previous chapter, all support the Hebrew Bible's claim that a tent
sanctuary provided the focal-point for ancient Israel's cult prior
to the construction of Solomon's Temple.2 For any structural
similarities shared between the Tabernacle and the Temple, it is
likely that the Tabernacle has precedence. Moreover, the strongest
parallels to P's Tabernacle, Rameses IFs military camp at Qedesh
and the funerary shrines of Tutankhamen and Tiye, all arise from
Late Bronze Age Egypt, the correct context according to the
Hebrew Bible for the Tabernacle's construction. Moreover,
contemporary Ugaritic literature places a Late Bronze Canaanite
senior deity and pantheon head in a tent.3 Thus, a Late Bronze
1

For Wellhausen's claim, see p. 89 n. 1.


Contrast Martin Noth's claim about the Tabernacle: "There is no analogy to
this astonishing construction anywhere in cultic history (Exodus [Philadelphia,
1962]: p. 211)
3
The material remains from Ugarit testify to a strong connection with Egypt
2

130

CHAPTER EIGHT

II/Iron I Israelite tent sanctuary, heavily influenced by Egyptian


techniques, would not be an anomaly. It might even be expected.
Much of the Tabernacle's cultic furniture and associated
terminology place P's Tabernacle in a LB II Egyptian context as
well. The Tabernacle's Menorah, distinct from the later
lampstands of Solomon's Temple (1 Kgs 7:49) and Zechariah's
vision (4:2), best belongs here based on terminology, artistic
parallels, and craftsmanship.4
Other aspects of the Tabernacle also recall Egyptian practice,
though not necessarily in the LB II. The table of showbread set
with twelve loaves of bread (Lev 24:5-6) finds its best parallel in
Egyptian tomb iconography, where the table for the deceased is
set with loaves, often numbering twelve (Plate 55a).5 The
Tabernacle's covering of fflw "fine linen" is also of Egyptian
derivation, at least etymologically (ssr[w]).6 The best parallel to
the form of the Tabernacle's altar, a horned structure composed
of wood with a hollow inside, comes from a miniature model of a
Middle Kingdom granary and butchery (Plate 55b).7 Thus,
from the MB to LB, as mentioned in Marguerite Yon, "Ugarit," ABD VI, pp.
695-706. Although we do not know who constructed El's tent, it would likely be
Kothar, who has strong Egyptian ties. Concerning Ugaritic El's tent, see pp.
94-99.
4
Carol L. Meyers, The Tabernacle Menorah, ASOR Dissertation Series 2
(Missoula, MT, 1976): pp. 181-84, n. 74; "Lampstand," ABD IV, pp. 141-43.
5
On these reliefs, the number of bread-loaves varies from six to eighteen, the
average being twelve. Stephen Rosenberg, "The Tabernacle Archetype," Journal
of the Visual Arts vol. 3, no. 4 (Winter 1960-61): p. 23. In a Mesopotamian
ritual, 12 loaves of bread are placed on a table dedicated to Ishtar (CAD A/1244
7'). Also, 12 loaves are depicted on a Beni Hasan tomb painting (Percy E.
Newberry, Beni Hasan I [London, 1893]).
6
Thomas O. Lambdin, "Egyptian Loan Words in the Old Testament," JAOS
73 (1953): pp. 145-55. tiv is one of four terms for linen in the Hebrew Bible, and
its usage is consistently preexilic, being replaced by pa after the sixth century
B.C.E. See Avi Hurvitz, "The use of seS and bus in the Bible and its Implications
for the Date of P," HTR 60 (1967): pp. 117-21. On other words of Egyptian
derivation used in the Tabernacle's description, see Joshua M. Grintz, "Ancient
Terms in Priestly Laws," 5-20, 163-80.
7
The model was found in Tomb 366 at Beni Hasan, and dates to the Middle
Kingdom. Note that no parallels to the Tabernacle's horned altar (Exod 27:1-8)
have been found in the Syro-Palestinian material record prior to the 10th century
B.C.E. Five horned incense altars dating from the 10th century were found in situ
at Megiddo, one at Lachish. Moreover, these horned altars are all stone; none is
composed of metal-overlaid wood as in Exodus. For information on these and the
corpus of c. 40 horned altars, as well as the debate surrounding their function,

TABERNACLE

13 1

whatever the date for the Priestly writings as a whole, the


Tabernacle texts seem to be based on a structure that predates the
author by at least six centuries.
Various rituals associated with the Tabernacle are also mirrored
in Late Bronze texts. The practice of anointing priests with oil and
blood (Exodus 29) finds strong parallels in LB cuneiform texts
from Emar in northern Syria.8 Likewise, the function of priests
and Levites both guarding and maintaining the Tabernacle
resembles the shared custody of Hittite temples, which are run by
two classes of temple guards: the karimnales priests who sustain
the inner temple, and the outer temple guards, the halliyataleL9
The Tabernacle's symbolism, and the process by which it is
revealed and constructed, all reflect known building accounts of
ancient Near Eastern temples. Yahweh showing Moses a model of
the Tabernacle in heaven to serve as the celestial prototype fits
perfectly into the genre of temple building. So too Gudea, king of
Lagash (c. 2200 B.C.E.), is shown a model of the temple of
Ningirsu in a dream before he begins construction.10 Most often
in the conception of ancient Near Eastern temples, various aspects
of each temple's form reflect its corresponding god's personal
domain and attributes. For example, the mythic temple of the
see Seymour Gitin, "Incense Altars from Ekron, Israel, and Judah," Eretz-Israel
20 (1989): pp. 52-67; "New Incense Altars from Ekron," Eretz-Israel 23 (1992)
pp. 43-49. Cf. Menahem Haran, who holds to the biblical claim that incense was
burned only at the Jerusalem Temple, and that the unearthed horned altars were
used for grain offerings, in "Incense AltarsAre They?", Proceedings of the 2nd
International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, June 1990 (Jerusalem, 1993):
237-47; and Temples and Temple Service, pp. 236-38.
8
Daniel E. Fleming, "More Help From Syria: Introducing Emar to Biblical
Studies," BA 58 (1995): pp. 126-147. Daniel Arnaud, Emar VI (Paris, 1986). See
also Alan R. Millard, "Mesopotamia and the Bible," Aram 1:1 (1989): pp. 2526, and "La prophetic et I'e'criture: Israel, Aram, Assyrie," RHR 202 (1985): pp.
125-145.
9
Jacob Milgrom, "The Shared Custody of the Tabernacle and a Hittite
Analogy," JAOS 90 (1970): pp. 204-209.
10
Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness (New Haven, 1976): pp. 8081; Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods (Chicago, 1948): pp. 255-56. Note
also a similar belief in Egypt, where Thoth plans the temple of Re at Heliopolis
(Frankfort, pp. 269-71). For many further parallels, some closer in date to the
Hebrew Bible, see Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "The Priestly Account of Building
the Tabernacle," JAOS 105 (1985): pp. 21-30; / Have Built You an Exalted
House: Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and North-west
Semitic Writings (Sheffield, 1992).

132

CHAPTER EIGHT

Ugaritic storm deity Baal must have a window for lightning bolts,
and the use of lapis-lazuli in the construction mirrors the sky's
color.11 Like Baal, Yahweh rides the clouds and lives in the
heavens, and so too Yahweh's mythic home is adorned with
lapis.12 Yet Yahweh's manifestations transcend the storm, and so
channels for lightning are not a prerequisite for His dwelling. The
primary concern for Yahweh's early home seems to be mobility, a
quality best exhibited by tents. Although the Tabernacle lacks the
overt cosmic symbolism found in many ancient Near Eastern
temples, phenomena in Yahweh's heavenly domain are repeatedly
referred to with terminology associated with tents: the sun, the
clouds, the firmament, and the heavens in general.13
The Priestly source's detailed description further implies that a
real structure influenced P's Tabernacle account. Nearly 400
verses are allotted to the Tabernacle's form and furnishings, far
more attention than comparable structures receive in the Hebrew
Bible and other ancient Near Eastern writings.14 Elsewhere P
evinces little concern with man-made structures, as only three
verses describe Noah's ark (Gen 6:14-16). The cumulative
evidence suggests an actual prototype underlay P's Tabernacle.

11
The use of lapis in Baal's house is recorded in KTU I.4.V.18-19, 33-35.
Note also that Mesopotamian Bel sits on a throne over lapis (uqnu) in Alasdair
Livingstone, Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and
Babylonian Scholars (Oxford, 1986): pp. 82-83. Cf. also 1 Enoch 14, in which
the ceiling of the heavenly throne-room consists of stars and hailstones.
12
Exod 24:10 claims Yahweh is enthroned on a throne of lapis lazuli.
13
E.g., Ps 19:5-6 says that Yahweh has pitched a tent (Sn) for the sun,
which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his tent (insn). Similarly, Isa 4:5
describes the heavens as a "tent of righteousness." See also the use of nca in Jer
10:12; Job 26:7-9; Ezek 1:22. Pesikta Rabbati 31:6 contains more analogies
between Yahweh's home and various heavenly phenomena; cf. also Hebrews
9:23, Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 111:6) and especially Philo (On the Life
of Moses II, 16-23).
14
In contrast, only 70 verses describe Solomon's Temple and its furnishings
(1 Kgs 6:2-10, 15-38; 7:15-51), and Solomon's house receives 12 verses (1 Kgs
7:1-12). Two structures receive considerable detail, but still less than the
Tabernacle: Ezekiel's temple (Ezekiel 40-48) and the building recorded in
Qumran's Temple Scroll. For accounts of ancient building, see Victor (Avigdor)
Hurowitz, Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and NorthWest Semitic Writings (Jerusalem, 1983): pp. 224-38 (Hebrew); / Have Built
You an Exalted House (English).

TABERNACLE

133

P's Motivation and the Model for the Tabernacle: A Synthesis


The historical context of the priestly writer seems increasingly
likely to be the early seventh century B.C.E., based primarily on
the linguistic studies of Avi Hurvitz and Meir Paran showing P's
language to be antiquated compared to Ezekiel's.15 This
chronological frame also provides an opportune time for P's
message, given the renewed Assyrian threat and the religious
turmoil under Hezekiah and Manasseh.16 The influx of refugees
from northern Israel into Judah, with their written histories often
portraying unfavorably things dear to the author of P (e.g.
Aaron), would have provided ample motive for the Priestly writer.
Yet, the problem of motivation for the Tabernacle account in
particular remains. Why would an Aaronid priest, now 200 years
after the alleged Zadokite split,17 write with such detail about the
Tabernacle?
Thus, the Priestly writer was either a polemicist or a historian.
There is no evidence that the author of P wished to do away with
15

Avi Hurvitz, A Linguistic Study of the Relationship between the Priestly


Source and the Book of Ezekiel, CahRB 20 (Rome, 1982); "The Language of the
Priestly Source and its Historical Setting: The Case for an Early Date," PWCJS 8
(1981): pp. 83-94; Meir Paran, Literary Features of the Priestly Code: Stylistic
Patterns, Idioms and Structures. Hebrew University Dissertation (1983); Ziony
Zevit, "Converging Lines of Evidence Bearing on the Date of P," ZAW 94
(1982): pp. 502-09; Gary A. Rendsburg, "Late Biblical Hebrew and the Date of
P," JANES 12 (1980): pp. 65-80; Risa Levitt-Konn, A New Heart and a New Soul
(University of California, San Diego dissertation, 1997): p. 118. See also
Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?, and Jacob Milgrom, "Priestly ('P')
Source," ABD V, pp. 454-61. The majority of scholarship, however, continues
to date P to the exilic or postexilic eras (e.g. Frank Criisemann, The Torah :
Theology and Social History of Old Testament Law [Minneapolis, 1996]).
16
Thus there is much merit to Menahem Haran's reconstruction of events,
where the Priestly writer composes during the Assyrian threat under Hezekiah's
reign, motivated by Manasseh's drastic restructuring of the Temple, in which the
inner sanctum was rid of the Ark and the cherubim. I disagree, however, with
Haran's claim that "one cannot avoid the conclusion that what is reflected in P's
tabernacle is the Temple of Solomon in a stage that antedated those changes
[Manasseh's alterations]" (Menahem Haran, "Behind the Scenes of History:
Determining the Date of the Priestly Source," JBL 100 [1981]: 331; Temples and
Temple Service, pp. 192-94, 277-84, 288).
17
"Zadokite split" refers to events surrounding the succession to the throne
of King David, c. 965 B.C.E. Zadok, a descendant of Aaron, sided with Solomon,
while Abiathar, a descendant of Moses, sided with Adonijah. Subsequently,
Solomon's victory restricted access to the highpriesthood to the descendants of
Zadok. See Frank M. Cross, Jr., CMHE, pp. 208-15

134

CHAPTER EIGHT

the Temple and begin anew with a tent sanctuary.18 More likely is
that the Tabernacle accounts show the author of P acting as a
responsible historian. Far from inventing the structure, he is using
written texts, composed several centuries earlier, which record in
detail an elaborate tent shrine. P's source would be records
describing an actual structure dating to the Late Bronze II/Iron I,
as accounts of monumental construction and associated rituals are
normally composed during their fabrication, not centuries later.19
Just as Cross argued in 1947, the author of P is using written
documentation to record an actual tent sanctuary.20 However, for
Cross the prototype is not the early shrine located at Shiloh,
explicitly called ii?in brm, but rather the tent David erects for the
Ark in 2 Sam 6:17.21 Cross's main objection to the structure at
Shiloh is 1 Sam 1:9, where Eli is described as sitting in a chair by
the doorpost (ruiTia) of the temple of Yahweh (mrr ^:rn).22 These
features negate the possibility of a tent, according to Cross.
However, due to the fluidity of domiciliary terminology previously discussed, these features are not as problematic as he
would have it.23 In any case, the massive Tabernacle is a
compromise of sorts between the sedentary and the nomadic;
while it is portable in theory, transport is cumbersome and in fact
rarely happens.24 So it might be expected that biblical authors,
18

Contra Terence E. Fretheim, "The Priestly Document: Anti-Temple?," VT


18 (1968): pp. 313-29; I disagree with Fretheim's placement of P in the
Babylonian exile, as a member of a group opposed to rebuilding the Jerusalem
Temple.
19
For examples, see Alan R. Millard, "Mesopotamia and the Bible," Aram
1:1 (1989): 25-26.
20
Frank M. Cross, "The Priestly Tabernacle," pp. 213-14.
21
Cross, "The Priestly Tabernacle," p. 213; CMHE, pp. 231-32 (n. 52), 322.
In addition to Cross, those favoring a Tabernacle modeled on the tent of David
include: Virgil W. Rabe, "The Identity of the Priestly Tabernacle," JNES 25
(1966): pp. 132-34, Th. A. Busink, "Les origines du temple de Salomon,"
Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 17 (1963): p. 186, and Der Tempel von Jerusalem, p.
603. Wellhausen also argues that while the Priestly Tabernacle is fictitious, the
tent referred to in Nathan's prophecy (2 Samuel 7) was the tent of David
(Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels, p. 45).
22
Similarly, Shiloh's shrine is called nTfTKrrrr? in Judg 18:31; mrm11? in 1
Sam 1:7, 24; and mrr ^n in 1 Sam 3:3.
23
On the blended usage of terms pertaining to dwellings, see above pp. 1627.
24
Note for example that of the 40 years attributed to wandering in the
wilderness, for c. 38 of them the Tabernacle remained at Qadesh-Barnea ac-

TABERNACLE

135

when writing about the Tabernacle, even more than with standard
tents, adopt terminology typically reserved for houses. Also,
Yahweh declines David's offer to build a temple due to the fact
that from the Exodus until now, "I have been moving about in a
tent and in a Tabernacle" (2 Sam 7:6), seemingly referring to
Shiloh.25 Elsewhere the Shiloh sanctuary is clearly tent-related,
called "tent of the appointed time" (Josh 18:1; 19:51; 1 Sam
2:22), a "tent" and a "tabernacle" (Ps 78:60). Nothing is said of
a temple at Shiloh or anywhere else. Thus, some, most notably
Menahem Haran and Richard E. Friedman, have preferred the tent
shrine located at Shiloh as the model for P's Tabernacle.26 Given
the strong Egyptian influence on the form, furnishings and
orientation of the Tabernacle, it is not surprising that the Shiloh
shrine is maintained by officials bearing Egyptian names: Hophni
and Phinehas (1 Samuel 1-4).27
Cross further objects to Shiloh's shrine as the model because
he argues it was destroyed after the Battle of Ebenezer.28
Excavations at Shiloh have shown a massive Iron I destruction
layer.29 Later biblical passages may corroborate this destruction.
cording to the Priestly author's chronology. This is deduced from the fact that of
the 40 years, one year elapsed from the Exodus to the erection of the Tabernacle
(Exod 40:2). Leviticus transpires in one month (Num 1:1), and Israel leaves
Sinai 19 days after the census (Num 10:11) and shortly arrive at Qadesh, from
where the spies are sent out (Num 13:26). This leaves the march from QadeshBarnea to the plains of Moab (Numbers 20-36) at the end of the 40 years
(although cf. Deut 2:14, which claims 38 years pass after the Israelites depart
from Qadesh-Barnea). Later, the Tabernacle is attested only at four sites prior to
arriving at Jerusalem: Gilgal (Josh 4:19; 5:10; 9:6; 10:6, 43), Shiloh (1 Sam
21:1-6), Gibeon (1 Chr 16:39; 21:29; 2 Chr 1:3, 13), and Nob (1 Sam 21:1-6).
25
Cf.l Chr 17:5, examined below, p. 136 n. 32.
26
Menahem Haran, "Shiloh and Jerusalem," p. 21; Temples and Temple
Service. Richard E. Friedman's view is that Shiloh, like Jerusalem, has a tent
inside of a temple ("Tabernacle," ABD VI, pp. 294-95); see also Jan Dus, "Noch
zum Brauch der 'Ladewanderung,'" VT 13 (1963): pp. 126-32.
27
Phinehas derives from Egyptian p^nhsj "the southerner" and Hophni from
hfn(r) "tadpole." See John R. Spencer, "Phinehas," ABD V, pp. 346-47;
"Hophni," ABD III, pp. 285-86. Yahweh's shared attributes with various solar
deities, including Egyptian, are enhanced by the correlation between the
Tabernacle and the Egyptian military camp. See Paul E. Dion, "YHWH as Stormgod and Sun-god," ZAW 103 (1991): pp. 43-71; Mark S. Smith, The Early
History of God, pp. 115-24.
28
Cross, "The Priestly Tabernacle," p. 213.
29
See Israel Finkelstein, Shlomo Bunimovitz, and Zvi Lederman, Shiloh:
The Archaeology of a Biblical Site (Tel Aviv, 1993): pp. 388-89. Note also the

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For example, while standing in the Temple court, Jeremiah


predicts that due to disobedience, Yahweh "will make this house
like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the
earth" (Jer 26:6).30 Also Ps 78:60-61 says that for sins of the
same nature, Yahweh "forsook the Tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent
(where) He dwelled among people, and He gave His strength into
captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand."
No biblical text, however, explicitly includes the Tabernacle in
Shiloh's destruction. One might anticipate a more detailed
account of the central sanctuary's violent end, if it was
demolished by the Philistines.31 Thus it is possible that the
Tabernacles of Shiloh and Zion are one and the same, and
perhaps the Tabernacle went with the Ark to the Philistines.
The tent David erects for the Ark may in fact be the very
Tabernacle that stood at Gilgal, Shiloh, Gibeon, and Nob. The
main obstacle to this synthesis is that the Chronicler envisions two
tents existing simultaneously: David's tent in Jerusalem (1 Chr
16:1), and the Tabernacle at Gibeon (1 Chr 16:39).32 This is
easily accounted for, given the Chronicler's motivations and
known sources.33 There is much to suggest that David's tent and
presence of MB III and LB cultic objects and installations, verifying the site's
sacred usage (pp. 377-83).
30
Note also Jer 7:12, 14; 26:9.
31
Cf. the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles
36, Jeremiah 52, etc.
32
2 Chr 1:3-4 also attests to the separation of these tent-sanctuaries. Note
that Yahweh's dwelling "in a tent and in a tabernacle" (2 Sam 7:6) is altered in 1
Chr 17:5 to read "from tent to tent and from tabernacle." Richard E. Friedman
sees this as evidence that according to the Chronicler, the Ark moved from the
Tent of Shiloh to the Tent of David ("The Tabernacle in the Temple," pp. 24546).
33
Gibeon's early cultic status is apparent from its inclusion as a Levitical
city (Josh 21:17). More problematic for the Chronicler is that Solomon's
inaugural dream, and his subsequent sacrifice of 1000 burnt offerings, all occur at
the high place of Gibeon rather than in Jerusalem (1 Kgs 3:4-5 [ = 2 Chr 1:513]). To maintain the legitimacy of the Zadokite priests in the early Israelite
monarchy, as well as the centralization of the cult, Solomon cannot sacrifice on
his own at some illegitimate Gibeonite shrine as recorded in Kings. On the
contrary, in 2 Chronicles 1, he journeys with an assembly to the Tabernacle, and
uses not just any altar, but the very altar constructed by Bezalel (2 Chr 1:5). To
further legitimize this Gibeonite sanctuary, the Chronicler ensures that Zadok
himself regularly sacrifices there (1 Chr 16:39). In short, the distinction in
Chronicles between David's tent and the Tabernacle is a retrojection to make

TABERNACLE

137

the Tabernacle are one and the same. The tent David erects in 2
Sam 6:17 is prefaced by the definite article (^rmn), suggesting it is
something previously mentioned.34 Furthermore, David does not
build this tent from scratch. Rather he "spreads (it) out" no].35
More importantly, when the Ark and the Tabernacle (iJ?ia ^rm)
are transported to Solomon's Temple, they come from the City of
David (1 Kgs 8:4; 2 Chr 5:5). Thus, if David's tent is called
iriB "7rm, the natural inference is that it really is the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle's Form
Despite P's unprecedented attention to the Tabernacle's detail, the
precise form of the tent shrine remains enigmatic. The text
contains several pieces of evidence that must be individually and
collectively assessed, and several models of the Tabernacle have
been proposed over the past 2,000 years. The following pages will
explore the components (boards, bars, curtains, skins, veil/canopy,
and veil) first individually, and then collectively, and evaluate five
previously proposed models for the Tabernacle's form.

Boards (D'tthj?)
15And you shall make the boards (n^Tp) for the Tabernacle [from]
standing planks of acacia (n^roi) D^CSKJ ^r). ^Ten cubits is the length
of the board and a cubit and a half-cubit the width of the one board.
l^Two arms (nrr) to the one board connecting each [arm] to its sister;
thus you shall make for all the boards of the Tabernacle. *And you
shall make the boards for the Tabernacle; 20 boards for the south side
southward. ^"And 40 silver sockets (TIK) you shall make under the 20
boards; two sockets under the one board for its two arms and two
sockets under the one board for its two arms. ^And for the second
side of the Tabernacle, the north side, 20 boards. 21 And 40 sockets of
licit a non-centralized shrine at Gibeon. For further discussion on the cult at
Gibeon, see Joseph Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel (Cambridge, 1972); Patrick
M. Arnold, "Gibeon," ABD II, pp. 1010-12.
34
Note, however, that the article might be grammatically necessary rather
than optional, as it is an antecedent of a relative clause.
35
Contrast the repeated use of the verb ntui> "to make" during the construction
of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35-40) and Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6), as well as
the verb crpn "to raise" for the Tabernacle as a whole in Exod 40:1, 17-18.

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silver; two sockets under the one board and two sockets under the one
board. 22And for the west side of the Tabernacle, you shall make six
boards. 23 And two boards you shall make for corners of the Tabernacle
in the sides. 24 And they shall be double from below and they shall be
double / joined (LXX and Samaritan n^Nh, MT o^n) at the top to the
one ring; thus shall it be for the two of them, for the two corners they
shall be. 25And shall be the eight boards and their 16 silver sockets;
two sockets under the one board and two sockets under the one board.
(Exod 26:15-25)

The priestly author's term for the Tabernacle's supporting


structures, anp, is deliberately chosen, drawing on the terminology
of earlier Semitic tent shrines attested at Mari and Ugarit.36 The
shape and arrangement of the Tabernacle's 48 Q^ip are crucial
to reconstructing its overall form.
The identification of nwo with acacia is linguistically sound.37
Acacia wood is ideally suited for the frames, as it is durable,
strong, abundant, and relatively lightweight.38 The text remains
vague, however, regarding three items: the thickness of the boards,
the shape and arrangement of the two corner pieces, and the final
positioning of the boards (i.e. whether they are placed side-byside or overlapping).39
Two of the boards' dimensions are known: they are 10 cubits
in height and 1 1/2 cubits in width. The text says nothing of their
thickness; later proposals range from a cubit to four fingers.40
36
For the use of qrs in El's Ugaritic tent, see pp. 194-99. For large qersu at
Mari, and qersu in a ritual connotation, see pp. 116-18.
37
Hebrew o^em seems to derive from Egyptian snd.t, as argued by Thomas O.
Lambdin, "Egyptian Loan Words in the Old Testament," JAOS 73 (1953): p.
154. Cf. Arabic sant. Other than referring to the wood of the Tabernacle and its
furnishings, cr&a occurs in Isa 41:19 and in the place-names Shittim (Num
25:1), Abel-shittim (Num 33:49), Beth-shittah (Judg 7:22), and Nahal-hashittah (Joel 4:18).
38
On the wood's durability, note that the LXX refers to acacia as l)Xa
aorrnTOt "imperishable wood."
39
Here the LXX is no help, as it uses OTUXot "pillars." Jerome used tabulae,
whence Tindale got "boards." These tabulae were used in the construction of
Roman tabernacula, from which the word "Tabernacle" is derived.
40
Scholars' variant estimates of the thickness of the tzhp have been based on
one of two things: 1) producing a structure that parallels the Temple's 3:1 ratio
in length to width, or 2) producing a wooden exterior on which one of the two

TABERNACLE

139

Those favoring a thickness of one cubit for each board include


the Babylonian Talmud as well as Rashi.41 Yet, a major problem
hinders this interpretation. The burden of such enormous objects
would render transportation impractical if not impossible. The
approximate weight for a solid acacia board measuring 10 x 1.5 x
1 cubits approaches one ton at 1,772 lbs/804 kg.42 All 48 frames
would weigh 85,056 lbs/38,592 kg.
Others more plausibly argue a 1/2 cubit thickness for the
D^T]?.43 Nevertheless, the same problem of weight exists, though
to a lesser degree. Now the weight of each board is 886 lb/402 kg
(48 frames=42,528 lbs/19,296 kg).
Here the anatomy of acacia trees becomes relevant. While there
are approximately 750 species of the acacia tree, few can produce
such massive lumber.44 For boards measuring 10 x 1.5 x 1 cubits,
a trunk diameter of 32.4 inches/81 cm is necessary. For half-cubit
thick boards, the tree's diameter needs only to be 12.78
inches/31.95 cm (Figure 7).

curtains hangs uniformly. The advantages and disadvantages of the various


models are examined below, pp. 159-85.
41
Rashi, on Exod 26:17. In bShab 98a-b there is a debate between R. Judah,
who suggests the frames are one cubit thick at their bottom, but taper to a fingerbreadth at the top, and R. Nehemiah, who states they were one cubit all the way
up. See also the medieval commentary on the Tabernacle, Baraita de-Melekhet
ha-Mishkan, critical edition by Robert Kirschner (Cincinnati, 1992), p. 154,
which argues for a thickness of one cubit.
42
Each frame in this model consists of 50.625 cubic feet, given 18 inches
per cubit. The weight is achieved using the formula of 35 pounds per square foot
(Gerald E. Wickens, "A Study of Acacia albida," Kew Bulletin 23 [1969], p.
197). William Brown, The Tabernacle (Edinburgh, 1899): p. 275, arrives at the
same estimate.
43
Including Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "Tabernacle," Hastings Dictionary
(1902): pp. 659-61.
44
Kennedy points out the difficulty in finding such large trees, "Tabernacle,"
p. 659. On the many species of acacia, see Michael Zohary, Flora Palaestina 2
(Jerusalem, 1972): p. 26.

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Trunk Diameter for Boards Measuring 1.5 x 1 and 1.5 x 0.5 Cubits

Figure 7 - Acacia Trunk Diameter for Tabernacle Boards

In both cases the tree must stand c. 20 ft/6 m tall to produce an


adequate trunk height of 10 cubits. Only two species of acacia
located in the Near East, Acacia nilotica and Acacia albida, could
produce such massive boards.45 Acacia nilotica is the larger of
the two trees, but currently the nearest indigenous area is tropical
Africa; its presence in the Sinai/Southwest Asia in antiquity
remains unknown. Thus, Acacia albida is the more likely
contender. These trees at times reach a height of 30 m and
occasionally possess a trunk diameter of 2 m, giving ample space
to create even one cubit thick boards.46 Still, while tree physiology makes it possible to construct boards of this magnitude,
their weight remains prohibitive.
To overcome this difficulty, most scholars follow a suggestion
first put forward by Archibald R. S. Kennedy, that the D'Bhp were
not "boards," but rather "frames."47
45
Ziony Zevit, "Timber for the Tabernacle: Text, Tradition, and Realia,"
Eretz-Israel 23 (1992): p. 140.
46
Ziony Zevit, "Timber for the Tabernacle: Text, Tradition, and Realia," p.
140-42; Michael Zohary, Flora Palaestina 2, p. 27; Abraham Fahn and Ella
Werker, Wood Anatomy and Identification of Trees and Shrubs from Israel and
Adjacent Regions (Jerusalem, 1986): p. 116. Note also the description
D'nniJ Q'Cffl 'si?, possibly meaning "tree of standing acacia," which would seems to
rule out many indigenous species which resemble bushes rather than trees. If so,
the author of P has in mind a tall, upright tree.
47
Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "Tabernacle," pp. 659-61. The translation

TABERNACLE

141

Figure 8 - Kennedy's Tabernacle Frame with its Bases

Kennedy's model no longer requires a large trunk diameter,


although the tree's height must still range from 4.5 to 6 meters to
produce 10 cubit upright beams assuming the vertical niT are of
a single piece of wood.48 The two holes created by latticed frames
would allow the Tabernacle's ornate covering to be seen; whereas
in the solid D'tfnp model, the fabric is obscured except on the
"frames" is found in RSV; Richard E. Friedman, "Tabernacle," p. 295; Henry J.
Grimmelsman, The Book of Exodus (Cincinnati, 1927): p. 176; Martin Noth,
Exodus, p. 212; and Howard Hatton, "The Projections on the Frames of the
Tabernacle," The Bible Translator 42.2 (1991): pp. 205-09. Ziony Zevit
interestingly employs flora studies to conclude the superiority of Kennedy's
model. However, he considers only the above proposed models of 1 and 1/2
cubit thicknesses for the frames. More plausible, given the weight difficulties,
are thin boards (see below, pp. 144-45).
48
Ziony Zevit ignores the possibility that the frames might be composed of
more than a single piece of timber ("Timber for the Tabernacle," p. 141 ).

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CHAPTER EIGHT

ceiling. Kennedy further contends his model accounts for the


text's silence regarding the thickness of the Q^TJ?, as he writes " a
frame has, strictly speaking, no thickness,"49 even though he later
assumes 1/3 of a cubit thickness.50 Kennedy places the 1 1/2 cubit
frames side-by-side, creating a length for the Tabernacle of 30
cubits (each long-side has 20 frames) and a width of 10 cubits
(six frames [9 cubits] plus 1/3 cubit for each of the long-sided
frames' thicknesses and 1/6 of a cubit for the bars on each side
[Plate 62]).

The Arrangement of Kennedy's Tabernacle Frames


( 20 fra mes x 1 1/ 2 cu bit wid th = 9 )

Figure 9

As the Tabernacle's coverings are visible both inside and outside


of the Tabernacle, the measurements of 30 x 10 x 10 cubits are
the length, height, and width of the fabric as it hangs upon the
frames, making the debate regarding whether the measurements
apply to the interior or exterior of the frames irrelevant, according
to Kennedy.51
Nevertheless, Kennedy's reconstruction involves several
difficulties. First and foremost, these frames resemble no tentframe construction known to antiquity or modernity. Also, the
limited display of the ornate linen covering to which Kennedy
objected is only slightly improved. It still remains invisible from
outside the Tabernacle, and even within, the frames' one-third49

Kennedy, p. 660.
Kennedy, p. 661.
...51
Kennedy, p. 661.
50

TABERNACLE

143

cubit wide windows largely obstruct the view. Kennedy translates


Exodus 26:15-17:
15

And thou shalt make the frames for the dwelling of acacia wood,
standing up, 17two uprights for each frame, joined to each other by
cross-rails 1610 cubits the height and a cubit and a half the breadth
of the single frame.
(Kennedy, p. 660)

Kennedy claims verse 16 is parenthetical, and so he places it after


verse 17. Thus the niT of verse 17 are components of verse 15's
Q'ttnp, not accessories.52 Kennedy's translation of ni^fflfp as
"joined to each other by cross rails" is cumbersome though
possible, as the root implies a connection of some sort.53
Occasionally in rabbinical sources, f&V can be used for the rungs
of a ladder, though the root more often is used for bolts as well as
mortises and tenons.54
Lack of parallels to Kennedy's structure and textual difficulties
are not the only problems with interpreting D^TJ? as "frames."
The main feature that attracts scholars to Kennedy's model is the
reduction in weight; yet, Kennedy's frames weigh approximately
444 lbs/200 kgs each, still excessive.55
Num 7:8 provides eight oxen along with four wagons to
transport the 48 boards of the Tabernacle, their 96 bases, and
other wooden and metal objects of lesser weight, including the 60
52

Kennedy, p. 660.
The root ^hv connotes joining in 1 Kgs 7:28-29, the only biblical context
where ^TD is used outside of the Tabernacle's Q'tuifp.
54
For T+hti, see Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud
Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (New York, 1992): p. 1577.
55
The frames' weight was originally calculated by Ziony Zevit ("Timber for
the Tabernacle," Eretz-Israel 23 (1992): p. 141) to be 290 kgs. Zevit reaches
this figure by the following calculations: two uprights at 10 x .5 x .5 cubits at
35 Ibs per cubic foot, equaling 590 lbs/268 kgs. Zevit then adds 50 Ibs for the
two crossbars, totaling 640 lbs/290 kgs. However, Kennedy argued that the
frames were .33 cubits thick, not .5 as Zevit claims (Kennedy, p. 661). Thus the
weight of Kennedy's frames is reduced from 290 kgs to 200 kgs. Cf. Menahem
Haran, who criticizes Kennedy's theory because of this supposed weightreduction. Haran claims the crfflTp were meant to be heavy, as they are transported
in oxen-driven carts. See "The Priestly Image of the Tabernacle," HUCA 36
(1965): pp. 192, and Temples and Temple Service: pp. 150-51.
53

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CHAPTER EIGHT

columns and bases for the courtyard, and the nine columns and
bases for the Tabernacle's screen and rDis.56 The maximum
weight that a pair of oxen can pull in a cart has been estimated at
4,400 lbs/2,000 kg.57 The 96 silver bases of the D^TJ? and the four
silver bases of the rGis are said to weigh 100 talents or 6,600
lbs/3000 kg.58 This already fills the allotted weight for 1.5 carts.
If the remaining elements weigh in the vicinity of 2,200 lbs/1,000
kg, then only two carts remain for the Q^ip.

Allotment of Weight to Four Carts

Figure - 10

With a maximum weight for two carts of 8,800 lbs/4,000 kg


divided among 48 frames, this leaves an maximum weight for
each frame of 183.6 lbs/83 kg, significantly below Kennedy's
444 lbs/200 kg frame.
Given the limitations of Kennedy's frame theory, it seems the
best reconstruction for the Q^fflTp adheres to the understanding of
Josephus and Philo: namely, that they were thin boards.59 This
56

Note that some of the heaviest objects, such as the Ark, mercy seat, and
other furniture, are transported by hand, not by cart. This is presumably because
they are holier than the outer framework.
57
Laszlo Bartosiewicz, W. Van Neer, & A. Lentacker, Draught Cattle: Their
Osteological Identification and History (Belgium, 1997): p. 18. Note the decree
of Theodoras II in the 5th century C.E. which limited the loads of ox teams to c.
500 kg; see Bartosiewicz et al., p. 26 for references. For further information on
the use of oxcarts in antiquity, see Stuart Piggott, Wagon, Chariot and Carriage
(New York, 1992): pp. 13-36.
58
Exod 38:27.
59
Josephus, Ant., III.vi.3; Philo, Moses, 11:18. Recent proponents include

TABERNACLE

145

better accounts for the text's silence concerning their thickness.


Furthermore, the weight is now reduced to an acceptable level. If
the boards are four fingers thick, as Josephus claims, then their
individual weight computes to c. 141.75 lbs/64.3 kg, a figure
capable of cart transportation as claimed in Num 4:31-32; 7:8.60
This weight also corresponds to the qersu at Mari, though this is
likely to be coincidental.61 The increase in weight of the
Tabernacle's Q^Tp from gold overlay is minimal.62 More support
for interpreting D'tinp as "thin boards" comes from Egypt, where
the nested shrines encasing the coffin of Tutankhamon as well as
the boards of Tiye's shrine serve as a strong parallels.63 Each
catafalque consists of a series of interlocking gold-plated wooden
boards, each about four fingers thick. Bronze mortises from the
tomb of Tiye finely illustrate the function of the board's niT
"arms" as a variety of mortises and tenons (Plate 56a), as does
the gilded tent-frame of Hetepheres (Plate 56b).
Further understanding of the n^-jp and their associated niT
"arms" can be gained from Egyptian and Phoenician shipbuilding from the Old Kingdom until Roman times. The hulls and
cabins of such vessels frequently consist of interlocking boards of
a similar dimension to the Tabernacle's.64 Thus it seems likely
each Tabernacle anj? had two tenons on the bottom to adhere to
the bases, and two tenons on each side to fit each arm with "its
Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel (New York, 1961), p. 295; and Umberto Cassuto,
Exodus (Jerusalem, 1967): p. 357. James Strong similarly claims the planks
were 1/16 cubit thick in The Tabernacle of Israel, Rev. Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI,
1987), p. 31. Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz's reconstruction claims the frames were
.25 cubits thick; his comer frames are placed perpendicular to the real wall, so
that the .25 thickness of each wall and each comer frame account for the one
cubit missing in the six standard frames on the rear wall ("The Form and Fate of
the Tabernacle," p. 131). Also of this opinion is B. Jacob, The Second Book of
the Bible: Exodus, Trans. W. Jacob (Hoboken, NJ, 1992): p. 791.
60
This leaves a weight of 1, 913.7 kg (about one cart load) for the additional
wooden and metal objects. Note that in Num 4:25-27 and 7:6-7, two wagons
with four oxen are provided to transport all the coverings of the Tabernacle and
the court, a load apparently much lighter than the frames.
61
For the qersu at Mari, which require two men to carry, see pp. 116-18.
62
Carol L. Meyers, The Tabernacle Menorah, pp. 31-34; 41-43.
63
See Plates 36, 38, 41a, 41b.
64
Note especially the sunken hull discovered near Kibbutz Magen Michael,
currently being conserved at the University of Haifa. Here thin planks of similar
dimensions to the Tabernacle's are coupled by wooden "arms."

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CHAPTER EIGHT

sister." In other words, the niT of Exod 26:19 are not those of v.
17.

Figure 11 - Tabernacle's Thin Boards and "Arms"

These nautical parallels may further our understanding of


Ezekiel's "Lament over Tyre" (Ezekiel 27). Ezekiel's metaphorical ship consists of planks from fir trees (27:5), a mast of
cedar (5), and fine linen spread out as a covering from the sun
(7). This all corresponds with textual and pictorial remains of
ships in antiquity. Ezek 27:6 reads: "of oaks from Bashan they
made your oars; // your ahp they made ivory." This provides the
Hebrew Bible's only non-tabernacular use of shp. The usual
translation of anp as "deck" does not fit, as an ivory deck, unlike
the other components of Ezekiel's ship, is not practical; the

TABERNACLE

147

surface would be too slippery, not to mention costly.65 More


likely, snp in Ezekiel refers to the boards used to construct the
ship's main cabin, existent on ship remains as well as on models
and reliefs (Plates 57a-58b).66 These cabins metioned by Ezekiel
would not be made of ivory, but would feature decorative ivory
inlay, which is always placed on vertical surfaces, never on
floors.67
Menahem Haran, however, rejects understanding the Tabernacle's a^ip as solid boards for linguistic reasons. He claims that
the Hebrew term for thin planks is nm1?, like the boards
composing the altar (Exod 27:8; 38:7). Two rejoinders are
possible: first, we cannot exclude the possibility that anp and ni1?
are synonyms. Second, P's use of the term flip seems to be
deliberate, evoking the root used at Mari for a tent shrine and in
Canaanite mythology for El's tent.
Two Corner Pieces and the Arrangement of the Boards
Another difficulty relating to the Tabernacle's Q^Tp is the
position and shape of the two corner frames. Here again proposals
vary significantly. Most reconstruct the two corner frames as
being separated at the bottom and joined at the top, thus creating
a sort of triangular shaped frame (see for example Kennedy's
model in Plate 62).68 Yet, these two frames need not be so very
different from the other 46 Q^Enp. A simpler reconstruction that
65

For "deck," see RSV; KJV has "benches."


H. J. van Dijk, Ezekiel's Prophecy on Tyre (Rome, 1968): p. 48. For
information on ships, see George F. Bass, A History of Seafaring Based on
Underwater Archaeology (London, 1972): pp. 11-62. Shelley Wachsmann writes
of cabins on Phoenician ships in Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze
Age Levant (College Station, TX, 1998): pp. 53-54.
67
Note 8th-century ivory panels on a Phoenician throne from Cyprus in Eric
Gubel, Phoenician Furniture (Leuven, 1987): pp. 55-57; also the inlaid bed
frame from Samaria, and the ivory walls from Nineveh. While the cabin's walls
would not be composed entirely of ivory, small decorations would be inlaid
(Irene Winter, "Ivory Carving," Ebla to Damascus, Harvey Weiss, ed.
(Washington, 1985): pp. 339-46; pis. 172-77).
68
Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "Tabernacle," p. 661; Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, 'The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p. 132. Note also the theory of
William B. Ridges, who constructs all 48 frames, and not just the corner pieces,
of twin boards leaning against each other at top, to form an upside-down V,
much like modern pup tents, in "On the Structure of the Tabernacle," PEF (1896):
p. 189.
66

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CHAPTER EIGHT

better corresponds to known ancient woodworking practices is to


interpret the corner frames as twin boards forming an "L" shape.
This parallels many Egyptian wooden structures, most notably the
corner frames of the tent belonging to Hetepheres (Plate 59).69
Thus "double from below" (a^Nh) and "complete above"
(n^n) in Exod 26:24 are synonymous wood-working terms for
fusing boards.70
In addition to the thickness of the D'tthj? and the shape and
arrangement of the two corner pieces, another mystery in the
Tabernacle's solid structure is the arrangement of the o'anp. Thus,
while most scholars place them side by side, the possibility
remains that they could have overlapped. This theory will be
explored in greater detail below in the section on Aharoni and
Friedman's reconstruction of the Tabernacle as a whole.71
Bars (orris)
26And you shall make bars (anna) [from] acacia wood; five for the
boards of the first side of the Tabernacle. ^And five bars for the
boards of the second side of the Tabernacle; and five bars for the boards
of the back-side of the Tabernacle westward. 28And the middle (pTi)
bar in the middle (^ra) of the boards; bolting (rrnn) from end to end.
29And the boards you shall overlay with gold and their rings you shall
make gold, housings for the bars; and overlay the bars [with] gold.
(Exod 26:26-29)

Verse 28 is the primary source of difficulty. How long is each bar,


and is the middle bar different from the other four bars on each
of the Tabernacle's sides? Most interpret the middle bar to be
longer than the others. Thus in effect there are only three courses
of bars on the Tabernacle's sides: the middle bar runs the entire
length of each side, while the top and bottom bars meet halfway.72
69

Also note the similarity to the coffin and sepulcher of Amenemet I, both of
which have two corner boards coupled in an L shape and reinforced by metal
rings
(Umberto Cassuto, Exodus [Jerusalem, 1967]: p. 356).
70
Alternatively, the LXX and Samaritan readcrpxh twice rather than the MT's
a^h and am
71
See pp. 167-73.
72
Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "Tabernacle," p. 660; Samuel R. Driver, The
Book of Exodus, Cambridge Bible (Cambridge, 1911): p. 289.

TABERNACLE

149

Figure 12 - Possible Arrangement for the Five Bars of the Tabernacle

This arrangement does not make sense for the Tabernacle's back
side, however, as it is only a third of the length of the two longer
sides. For the back side, three solid acacia bars would be
preferable to breaking up the top and bottom courses.
Furthermore, the top level of the boards is where the Tabernacle
requires the most stability, and so upper reinforcement rather than
in the middle would be architecturally preferable:

Figure 13 - Five Bars of the Tabernacle with Long Bar on Top

Another solution places the middle bar inside of the solid frames
(here assumed to be massive), with the remaining four bars
outside of the Tabernacle.73

73

See William Brown, "Construction of the Tabernacle," PEF (1897): pp.


154-55. Richard E. Friedman's reconstruction of the Tabernacle requires a
similar arrangement, where the middle bar passes between the overlapping
frames. This will be examined below, pp. 167-73.

150

CHAPTER EIGHT

Figure 14 - Possible Arrangement of the Tabernacle's Bars

However, this only works with implausibly thick D'anp, and the
drilled-out midsection would weaken the boards; moreover, the
difficulty in assembly, where tension would repeatedly stress the
middle bar, makes such an arrangement unlikely. This theory
further ignores all known techniques of woodworking in
antiquity. But the greatest difficulty is the excessive weight of
boards thick enough to house such a bar.74
An extreme solution comes from James Fergusson, who
interprets the middle bar as a "ridgepole."75 This theory will be
examined in detail below;76 here, suffice it to say that this is
impossible based on the text, not to mention an absence of
parallel constructions from the ancient Near East. Fergusson is
simply retrojecting a common form of European tent into
antiquity.
A better theory places the middle bar inside the Tabernacle,
while the other four bars remain on the outside.

74

See pp. 139-40.


James Fergusson, "Temple," William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible III
(London, 1893): pp. 1451 ff. See also Conrad Schick, Die Stiftshutte, der
Tempel in Jerusalem und der Tempelplatz der Jetztzeit (Berlin, 1896).
76
See p. 165.
75

TABERNACLE

151

Figure 15 - Possible Arrangement of Tabernacle Bars

Hence only the middle bar is "inside" C?jin:i) the Tabernacle.


Another possible reading of verse 28 is to treat p^n and ^ira as
synonyms. Then the text is simply redundant: "the middle (pTi)
bar in the middle Ojirn) of the boards." This arrangement places
all five bars either inside or outside the Tabernacle's boards.
Several of the aforementioned models require poles of 30
cubits. Wood anatomy, however, suggests that these bars are not
composed of a single piece of solid wood. Acacia albida is
capable of reaching heights of 30 m and thus is capable of
producing such bars; nevertheless, this excessive length would
render the bars brittle. More likely, they consist of several pieces
fused together through mortises and tenons before they are
encased in gold.
Curtains of Fine Linen77 ("iTfflQ m nir-p)
1

And [for] the Tabernacle, you shall make 10 curtains [of] fine linen
(inaa m) and blue and purple and red [wool], by the work of an artisan
one shall make them [adorned with] cherubim. 2The length of one
curtain shall be 28 cubits, and the width of one curtain four cubitsone measurement for all the curtains. 3The five curtains shall be
joined, each to its sister, and five curtains joined, each to its sister.
77

The Tabernacle's inner-curtain seems likely to be composed of linen mixed


with dyed wool; see A. Dillmann, Die Bucher Exodus und Leviticus (Leipzig,
1897); Jacob M. Myers, "Linen," and "Linen Garment," IDB III: pp. 134-35. I
use the term "curtain of fine linen" in reference to the dominant component.

152

CHAPTER EIGHT

4 And you shall make blue loops on the edge of one curtain, from the
end of the juncture; and thus you shall do on the edge of the last
curtain at the second juncture. ^Fifty loops you shall make on the one
curtain, and 50 loops you shall make on the end of the curtain that is
on the second junction; that the loops may correspond each to its
sister. "And you shall make 50 clasps of gold, and join the curtains
each to its sister with the clasps, and the Tabernacle will be one.
(Exod26:l-6)

The word ]2Vft is dually employed both for the "Tabernacle" in


general and specifically for the curtain of fine linen.78 This
implies that of all the Tabernacle's components, the curtain of
fine linen is the most vital and thus sacred. This curtain
symbolizes the tent of Yahweh (originally, of El), itself perhaps
symbolic of the heavens.
The form of the curtains is straightforward. The cherubim
design is woven into the fabric.79 Each panel measures 28 cubits
in length and four cubits in width.80 The four cubit width
corresponds to the width of most looms in antiquity (Plate 60).81
The panels are coupled lengthwise to form two sections of
equal dimensions, which are in turn joined to form a single piece.

Figure 16 - The Arrangement of the Curtains of Fine Linen


78

The word n^T "curtain" has no known etymology. The root JJT is used only
once verbally (Isa 15:4) and connotes fear (Cf. Arabic warn' "pious fear");
perhaps it is a variant of the more common yr'. At any rate, a connection with
nir-r is most unlikely, as and v rarely interchange.
79
The term -moo tra suggests fine linen twisted, related to Arabic Sazara "to
twist (cord)." Thus the Tabernacle is composed of woven ply yarns.
80
The dimensions of these panels parallel modern Bedouin tents. Four cubits
in width appears to be the biggest size manageable in a hand-loom.
81
Note that Bedouin tents are composed of panels about 4 cubits wide. See
Gustaf Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Paldstina, vol. 5, pis. 20-23.

TABERNACLE

153

Curtains of Goat-Hair (o'Ti? nir-r)


7You shall also make curtains of goats (hair), as a tent over the
Tabernacle. You shall make them 11 curtains. 8The length of one
curtain 30 cubits, and width of one curtain four cubits; one measure
for 11 curtains. 9And you shall join the five curtains separately and
the six curtains separately; and you shall double the sixth curtain at
the front of the tent. 10And you shall make fifty loops on the one
edge of the one outer curtain at the juncture; and 50 loops on the edge
of the second curtain that joins. 11And you shall make fifty bronze
clasps, and you shall make the clasps go into the loops and join the
tent, and it shall be one. 12And the remaining excess of the curtains of
the tent, the half-curtain that remains, shall hang upon the back of the
Tabernacle. 13And the cubit on this side and the cubit on that side that
remains in the length of the curtains of the tent, shall hang upon the
sides of the Tabernacle, on this and on this to cover it.
(Exod26:7-13)
The outermost curtain is composed of goat-hair, and consists of
11 panels 30 cubits long, four cubits in width. They are joined in
a similar fashion to the curtains of fine linen, except that here the
halves are uneven, because one side possesses six panels rather
than five.

154

CHAPTER EIGHT

Figure 17 - Arrangement of Curtains of Goat-Hair

The primary difficulties associated with this curtain arise from


verses 9, 12-13. The instructions to double the sixth curtain at the
Tabernacle's front could be accomplished in two ways. The fold
is made either at the halfway point of the llth curtain's width, or
alternatively at the crease between the 10th and 11th curtains.

Figure 18 - Alternative Methods to Double the 6th Curtain

Additional problems are the remaining half-curtain at the


Tabernacle's back side, as well as the instructions to cover the
curtain of fine linen (here called the "Tabernacle") with the extra
cubit of goat-hair curtain which remains on each of the
Tabernacle's long sides. These issues will be addressed below.82
82

Pp. 159-85.

TABERNACLE

155

Skins (niy)
14And you shall make a cover for the tent [of] ram skins dyed red
(crrriKQ); and a cover of n^nn skins from above.
(Exod26:14)

The only problem here is the identity of the Tabernacle's


outermost covering of D'-wnn. Beyond the Tabernacle texts, the
word appears only one other time in the Hebrew Bible: Ezek
16:10 refers to the composition of sandals. Among the many
contenders for the source of this leather are badgers, seals,
porpoises, narwhals, and even unicorns.83 More viable contenders
are a species of dugong in the Red Sea (Arabic dufyas), which
although rare, can still be seen as far north as Aqabah.84
Alternatively, a more attractive solution (though it requires an
irregular cognate equation) has been proposed by Yosef Ahituv
and Hayim Tadmor, in which a^nn, like DspiD "dyed red,"
refers to the color of the leather.85 The Akkadian cognate dusu is
used primarily for a semiprecious stone variously shaded yellow,
orange and/or red, and also sheep and goat leather dyed the same

83

The KJV and AV read "badger skins." "Seal skins" are preferred by William
H. Bennett, Exodus, Century Bible, p. 210; Samuel R. Driver, Book of Exodus,
p. 285. Porpoise skins are favored by NJPS and Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The
Priestly Tabernacle Reconsidered," p. 172. On narwhals, see Israel Aharoni,
"Animals Hitherto Unknown to or Little Known from Palestine", The Zoological
Society of Egypt, Syria/Palestine, Bulletin Supplement 6 (1944): pp. 40-41;
Paula Wapnish, 'Towards Establishing a Conceptual Basis for Animal Categories in Archaeology," in Methods in the Mediterranean (New York, 1995): p.
258.
84
Arabic dufyas also denotes "dolphin." Those subscribing to D'mn as "dugong" include Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "Tabernacle," p. 659; Umberto Cassuto,
Exodus, pp. 353-54. On dugong in the Red Sea, see Paula Wapnish, "Towards
Establishing a Conceptual Basis for Animal Categories in Archaeology," pp.
262-63, where she discusses marine mammals in relation to Ugaritic anhr and
Akkadian ndhiru; George C. L. Bertram, "Note on the Sea Cow in the Gulf of
Aqabah", Journal of the Society for the Preservation of Fauna in the Empire 47,
(1943): pp. 21-23.
85
Yosef Ahituv and Hayim Tadmor, "mn," Encyclopaedia Biblica 8
(Jerusalem, 1982): pp. 520-21.

156

CHAPTER EIGHT

color as the stone.86 This color may correspond to various solar


aspects of Yahweh.
The use of an outer covering of dyed leather for a tent finds a
parallel from Late Dynastic Egypt, where the mummy of Isi em
Kheb was protected by a like structure (Plates 34-35).
Veil/Canopy (nzhs)
31 And you shall make an veil/canopy (rona) [of] blue, purple, and
red, and fine linen; by the work of an artisan one shall make it
[adomed with] cherubim. 32And yOU shall put it upon four goldoverlaid acacia pillars, their brackets gold; upon four silver sockets.
33And you shall hang the veil/canopy under the clasps (LXX "upon
the frames") and you shall bring there inside the veil/canopy (rons*?)
the Ark of the Covenant; and the veil/canopy shall divide for you
between the holy and between the Holy of Holies. 34A.nd you shall set
the mercy seat upon (LXX "And you shall screen with the veil") the
Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. 35And you shall set the
table outside the veil/canopy and the Menorah across from the table
upon the south side of the Tabernacle and the table you shall put upon
the north side.
(Exod 26:31-35)

The nzhs, which separates the Holy of Holies from the rest of
the Tabernacle, is composed in the same fashion as the curtain of
fine linen, embroidered with cherubim. Most often the form of
the rois is interpreted as a veil hung upon four pillars, each 10
cubits in height.87

86
Ibid. Note the Targums translate crann as "colored-skins." See also CAD,
s.v. duSu and tahaS. On the technology of dying leather with kermes and other
substances, see Alfred Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries
(London, 1962): pp. 33-37; Robert J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology V
(Leiden, 1966): pp. 9; 22-46
87
Nahum M. Sarna, Exodus, IPS Commentary (New York, 1991): p. 171.

TABERNACLE

157

Figure 19 - Standard Interpretation of the none

But Richard E. Friedman argues for a large canopy under which


rests the Ark.

Figure 20 - Friedman's rons as a Canopy

Essential to his theory is Exod 40:3, "And you shall cover (rboi)
over the Ark with the nDis." Elsewhere it is referred to as "the
covering rois (^o&n no is)."88 There is much to be said for this
interpretation; possibly the traditional interpretation of the rois
as a veil arose from forcing the Temple's architecture onto the
Tabernacle.89
88
Exod 40:21; Mum 4: 5. See Richard E. Friedman, "Tabernacle," p. 295 for
further evidence. Lam 2:6 also refers to the Tabernacle by the word n;w (see pp.
9-11).
89
According to the MT, Exod 26:33 instructs that the n:ha be placed under
(nnn) the fabric's clasps. Friedman prefers the LXX reading: the n:hs was placed
em TCJV OTUXCJV "upon the frames," reading Q'fflTp "frames," instead of the MT
axnp "clasps." For Friedman, this means one of two things: 1) if 6TU is read,
thenrhs simply goes up against the Q'tthj?; or 2) if nnn is the preferred reading,
the nzhs is not 10 cubits in height, but lower than the standard frames. Victor
(Avigdor) Hurowitz objects that Hebrew nnn always means "under," and never
"lower than" (Hurowitz, "The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p. 136). If
Friedman is correct, then the DtfiTp should denote the entire structure of the

158

CHAPTER EIGHT

The description of the rchs and the Tabernacle's furniture


provides the first glimpse of the layout of the entire structure.
While the exact proportions are not stated in the Hebrew Bible,
and they would vary slightly depending on the overall
reconstruction of the Tabernacle's form, the layout of the
courtyard, Tabernacle, and furniture may adhere to the following
Talmudic proportions.

Figure 21 - Possible Ground Plan of Tabernacle and Court

Screen/Cover (^o&)
3"And you shall make a screen for the door of the tent [of] blue and
purple and red, and fine linen; the work of an embroiderer. 37And you
shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them [with]
gold and their nails gold; and you shall cast for them five bronze
sockets.
(Exod 26:36-37)

The form of the Tabernacle's screen is relatively straightforward.


This is a veil suspended by five pillars, each 10 cubits in height.

Tabernacle, just as qrs at Ugarit refers to El's tent, and Ezekiel's uhp connotes
the ship's entire cabin (pp. 146-47).

TABERNACLE

159

Figure 22 - Tabernacle's Screen

Though of lesser quality than the Tabernacle and the rone, the
material is also composed of fine linen; however, it is decorated
by embroidery rather than woven patterns (Plate 61).90
Comprehensive Solutions to the Tabernacle Puzzle: Some
Variations on a Standard Model
Until recently, disputes on the form of the Tabernacle focused on
relatively minor issues, as scholars agreed that the structure
measured 30 cubits in length, 10 in width, and 10 in height.
Debate tended to focus on whether the 10 cubit width reflects the
external or internal sides of the Tabernacle's wooden frames.91
Yet, despite this consensus, two of the three numbers were
contrived. The only dimension explicitly provided by the text is
the height of 10 cubits. At no place does the Hebrew Bible state
that the Tabernacle's length and width measure 30 and 10 cubits
respectively.
A few simple calculations underlie the hypothesis that the area
of the Tabernacle spanned 30 x 10 cubits. Exod 26:16, as we have
seen, instructs that the 46 frames are to be 10 cubits in height and
1 1/2 cubits in width, while the thickness is undetermined. Most
scholars assume that the boards are to be situated one next to the
other, with no overlap or gap. Thus, as the two side walls of the
90

On the difference between n$n ntuw? "weaving" and DJTI ntpw? "embroidery,"
as well as weaving and dyeing techniques, see Robert J. Forbes, Studies in
Ancient Technology IV (Leiden, 1964). Note that unlike the curtain of fine linen
and the rois, the screen has no cherubim designs.
91
See James Strong, The Tabernacle of Israel (Grand Rapids, 1987): pp. 3238.

160

CHAPTER EIGHT

Tabernacle consist of 20 boards each, the total length of each side


measures 30 cubits (20x1.5) (Figure 23).

Figure 23

Establishing the width of the Tabernacle's rear wall is much more


complicated. While the frames have the same width of 1 1/2 cubits,
only six frames are used; thus, the whole wall may span as little as
nine cubits. However, each corner of the Tabernacle contains an
additional frame which may or may not differ from the standard
frames in shape, because the measurements of these two corner
frames are not provided.92 So, not only the thickness of the
standard frames is a variable, but also the dimensions of these two
corner frames.
While a seemingly infinite number of dimensions can be
calculated solely from the text's description of the frames, the
placement of the curtains is an additional factor limiting the
Tabernacle's size. As we have seen, the curtain of fine linen
consists of 10 joined panels, each measuring four by 28 cubits.
Five panels are sewn together on each side, and then these two sets
are joined with golden clasps.93 When assembled, the overall
measurements of this curtain are 40 cubits in length by 28 cubits
in width.94 On top of the curtain of fine linen rests a second
curtain composed of 11 goat-hair panels, each measuring four by
30 cubits.

92
Exod 26:23-24. The text enigmatically instructs that these two frames be
doubled from below (noo^p ooh), while they join together on the top at the
uppermost ring (nrmn rwaarrttji ituNT1?;? o'an vrr nrn). See above, pp. 147-48.
93
Exod 2 6 : 6 . T T
94
Exod 26:1-6.

TABERNACLE

161

Figure 24 - Inner and Outer Curtains

Again, on one side five panels are sewn together, but now six
panels constitute the opposing side. This time 50 bronze clasps
join the two sections.95 When the panels are attached, the total
dimensions of the second curtain cover 30 by 44 cubits.96 Exod
26:9 commands that in some fashion the eleventh panel of the
outer curtain of goat-hair be doubled. This reduces the overall
length of the outer curtain by two cubits if the panel is folded in
half, or four cubits if the eleventh curtain is folded at the seam,
doubling up the tenth panel (Figure 24).
These ambiguities make for a daunting puzzle, which for two
thousand years has elicited a variety of solutions. For example, in
Josephus's model the boards are four fingers thick. He allots the
corner frames 1/2 cubit in width each, so when added to the nine
cubits provided by the standard frames, a total of 10 cubits is
achieved.97 This theory partially excuses the Priestly author from
neglecting to provide the thickness of the frames: they are simply
thin.

95

Exod 26:11.
Exod 26:7-10.
97
Josephus, Ant., III.vi.3. For other proponents of this model, see above, n.
59, pp. 144-45.
96

162

CHAPTER EIGHT

Figure 25

In regard to the outer curtain, Josephus's model works well,


providing the eleventh curtain is folded at its seam with the tenth
curtain. This would produce an overall length of 40 cubits for the
outer fabric, four of which consist of the superimposed tenth and
eleventh curtains. A 40-cubit length for the outer curtain accounts
perfectly for the 30 cubits of the Tabernacle's length, with 10
cubits reserved for the Tabernacle's height. The inner curtain is
more problematic. While the 40 cubit length completely covers
the rear wall, its 28 cubit width falls one cubit short of covering
the frames on the other two sides.

Figure 26 - Model 1 in 3 Dimensions

TABERNACLE

163

Proponents of this view argue that the silver bases upon which the
frames rest (Exod 26:14-15) cover one cubit of each frame, and
thus the fabric descends on each side to the top of each base.98
Others suggest that the gap is intended to protect the sacred fabric
from contact with the ground." Nevertheless, neither of these
explanations accounts for the inconsistency that in the rear of the
Tabernacle, the curtain touches the ground; on the sides, the
curtain is a cubit off the ground (Figure 26).
A second model suggests that the thickness of the standard
frames is not minimal, but that they are in fact 1/3 to 1/2 cubit
thick (Plate 62).100

Figure 27

As in Josephus's model, the nine cubits covered by the six rear


frames plus an additional 1/2 cubit on both corners produces a
back wall that spans 10 cubits on the external side. The corner
frames' contribution to the width of the Tabernacle is no longer
necessary, so they are placed outside the structure for support.
These corner frames slant in order to get the curtains off the
ground.101
98
Rashi (on Exod 26:14-15), Archibald R. S. Kennedy "The Tabernacle," p.
662, and Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," pp.
131-32.
99
Philo, Life of Moses, 11.148.
100
Archibald R. S. Kennedy, "The Tabernacle," p. 661.
101
Kennedy, p. 662; R. Judah holds the same opinion in bShab 98a-b.

164

CHAPTER EIGHT

The preceding model's merits and difficulties in relation to the


two curtains apply to this model as well because of the shared
external parameters. Furthermore, a new problem is created. The
interior of the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies now becomes not a
perfectly symmetrical 10 cubit cube but a room 10 cubits in
height, nine cubits in width, and nine and one-half cubits in depth.
However, it must be admitted that thus far no ancient Near Eastern
cella from the Late Bronze/Iron Age in the archaeological record
forms a perfect square.
A third model that finds agreement from Rashi and the
Babylonian Talmud argues that the Tabernacle's frames are one
cubit thick.102 This reconstruction concludes that the corner
frames possess the same measurements as the standard frames and
are simply placed alongside the six rear wall frames, providing an
interior dimension of 30 cubits in length by 10 cubits in width.103

Figure 28

While the symmetry of the Holy of Holies is preserved, new


problems surface regarding the curtains. For the inner covering,
the 40 cubits in length fall one cubit short on the rear wall, and
the 28 cubits in width fall two cubits short on each side. The outer
curtain measuring 30 cubits in width likewise leaves one cubit of
102
103

See above p. 139 n. 41 for proponents of this view.


On the excessive weight of these frames, see above, pp. 139-40.

TABERNACLE

165

frame on each side exposed. For this model a curtain measuring


41 cubits in length by 32 cubits in width would be needed to
cover all three sides equally.104
Sloped-Roof Reconstruction with Ridgepole
A significant variation on these "standard" models, first
suggested by the British architect James Fergusson and later
supported by Conrad Schick, found favor in the late 19th/early
20th century.105 This model argues that the Tabernacle roof is not
flat, but sloped (Plate 63a).
To accomplish this, great liberties are taken with the text. Most
notably, all but a few of the Tabernacle's fifteen bars are ignored,
with the Tabernacle's "middle bar" altered into a ridgepole,
spanning the length of the Tabernacle.106 Fergusson claims that
unsupported canvas spanning a distance of 15 feet is impossible
and would not hold up well in the rain.107 More astonishing, both
Fergusson and Schick claim the flat-roof Tabernacle parallels no
known tents.108 On the contrary, curtains of contemporary
Bedouin flat-roofed tents do span distances of 15 feet
unsupported (Plate 3b), and do quite well in the rain.109
104
Karl W. F. Bahr in Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus (Heidelberg, 183739) attempts to get around this problem by suggesting that the coverings were
hung inside the Tabernacle's frames. See below, p. 166. Another possibility is
that the bottom cubit of the side a^thp was left bare deliberately, to display the
silver sockets. However, as each socket most likely weighed only about 66
lbs/30 kg, they would not have been that large (for socket weight, see above, p.
144).
105
James Fergusson, "Temple," pp. 1451 ff.; and The Holy Sepulchre and the
Temple at Jerusalem (London, 1865): pp. 74-78; Conrad Schick, Die Stiftshiitte,
der Tempel in Jerusalem und der Tempelplatz der Jetztzeit (Berlin, 1896): pp. 642; "Some Remarks on the Tabernacle Controversy, PEF (1898): pp. 241-244.
Support for Fergusson was not unanimous; see an early refutation by William
Brown, "Construction of the Tabernacle," PEF (1897): pp. 154-55.
106
Thus, James Fergusson claims "Five rows of bars are quite unnecessary,"
in "Temple," p. 1451. For Fergusson's additional misuses of the Tabernacle
texts, including the invention of pillars to support the ridgepole, see William
Brown, "Construction of the Tabernacle," pp. 154-55.
107
James Fergusson, The Holy Sepulchre and the Temple at Jerusalem, p. 75.
108
Conrad Schick, "Some Remarks on the Tabernacle Controversy, pp. 241244. Note Fergusson's comment: ". . . like every tent from before the time of
Moses to the present day, the tent had a ridge," The Holy Sepulchre, p. 76.
109
Already pointed out by Theodore F. Wright, "The Tabernacle Roof," PEF
(1897): pp. 225-26; "The Boards of the Tabernacle," PEF (1899): p. 70.

166

CHAPTER EIGHT

Curtains Inside Frame


Other scholars, most notably William Brown, adhere to the basic
30 x 10 cubit model of the Tabernacle, but envision the Tabernacle's curtains not as a tent outside the boards, but rather inside,
suspended within the framework (Plate 63b).110
This theory enjoyed popularity early in the 20th century but
has been ignored in recent literature. However, there is much to
commend it. First and foremost, we have the parallel of the tent
resting inside the golden catafalque of Tutankhamon.111 Moreover, the gold-overlaid boards are now visible from the
Tabernacle's courtyard. Also, the order of items described in
Exodus 25-26 supports this arrangement. The Tabernacle's
description begins with the Ark, followed by the table, Menorah,
and then the tents of fine linen and goat-hair, and lastly the
boards and their bars. That is to say, the order proceeds from the
inside outward.
Nevertheless, textual difficulties hinder this interpretation.
Exod 26:13 instructs that "And the cubit on this side and the
cubit on that side that remains in the length of the curtains of the
tent, shall hang upon the sides of the Tabernacle, on this and on
this to cover it." If the curtain is on the inside, the excess would
fall upon the ground. Still more problematic is the failure to
mention a framework to support the tent within the Tabernacle's
boards, as we find in Tutankhamon's catafalque.
Rationale for the 30 X 10 Cubit Tabernacle
Each of the above approaches to the form of the Tabernacle
reflects a calculated interest in achieving dimensions of 30 x 10
cubits. The motivation does not stem solely from the descriptions
Fergusson's ridgepole tent sparked a lively debate on the Tabernacle's form,
with some ridiculous results, notably one by William S. Caldecott (The
Tabernacle: Its History and Structure [London, 1904]), and another where the
Tabernacle boards lean against one another, forming an inverted V frame 40 feet
high (William B. Ridges, "On the Structure of the Tabernacle," PF[1896]: p.
189).
110
Karl W. F. Bahr, Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus, 2 vols; Wilhelm
Neumann, Die Stiftshutte in Bild und Wort (Gotha, 1861); Carl F. Keil, Genesis
und Exodus (Leipzig, 1878): pp. 556-65; and Heinrich Holzinger, Commentary
on Exodus (Leipzig, 1900).
111
See pp. 107-09.

TABERNACLE

167

in Exodus regarding the size of the curtains and frames. There is


also a deliberate effort to make the Tabernacle's proportions
match the Second Temple in Jerusalem, assumed to be the
Tabernacle's prototype.112 Yet, the size of the second Temple
remains unknown. It seems unlikely that Cyrus' command in
Ezra 6:3, which orders that the dimensions are to be 60 cubits in
height and width, was ever carried out.113 Wellhausen and the
majority of scholars assume that the second Temple's dimensions
mirrored the first, whose dimensions are known: 60 cubits in
length and 20 cubits in width.114 Consequently for Wellhausen
and his supporters, P's fabricated Tabernacle is simply half the
size of both temples. Nevertheless, not only does this reconstruction assume that both the imaginary Tabernacle and the
rebuilt Temple recycle Solomon's measurements, but it also
ignores one of the three dimensions. Solomon's Temple towers
30 cubits in height, whereas the Tabernacle stands not 15 cubits,
but 10. Why would the Priestly author fail to remain consistent
with his supposed 1:2 ratio in all three dimensions?
Another Tenable Tent: Friedman's Tabernacle
Richard E. Friedman published in The Biblical Archaeologist
(Fall, 1980) a detailed model of the Tabernacle differing
significantly from the previous reconstructions in two respects: he
argued that the dimensions were only 2/3 the size previously
thought; and he argued that this reduced structure may actually
have stood within the Temple's Holy of Holies until its
destruction in 587 B.C.E.115
Friedman starts with the observation that we would expect the
frames' width to be an even number of cubits. Why 1 1/2? In
Friedman's reconstruction of the Tabernacle, the frames overlap
112

See pp. 2-3, nn. 11-12.


The peculiarity of this passage's failure to provide the Temple's length
may imply textual corruption. If the Second Temple were really twice the size of
the first, it seems odd that the older generation would cry when viewing the new
building, as recorded in Ezra 3:12-13.
114
1 Kgs6:2.
115
Richard E. Friedman, "The Tabernacle in the Temple," BA 43 (1980): pp.
241-48; Subsequent publications on this topic by Friedman include: Who Wrote
the Bible? (New York, 1989): pp. 182-187, and "Tabernacle," ABD VI, pp. 292300.
113

168

CHAPTER EIGHT

their neighboring frames by the 1/2 cubit. Thus the length of the
structure is reduced to 20 cubits. The width, depending on the
variables of frame thickness and placement of the corner frames,
lies most plausibly in the range of six to eight cubits.

Figure 29

The above model conforms well with the two fabric coverings, but
not in their typical reconstruction. Friedman folds both curtains in
half at the juncture where the golden and bronze clasps connect
the material. Thus, the inner curtain of fine linen becomes a
double-ply fabric measuring 28 by 20 cubits. The golden clasps
are placed at the Tabernacle's opening, and consequently the
fabric's 28 cubit width completely covers the 10 cubit height of
both the side walls as well as the Tabernacle's width of six to eight
cubits. The frames of the rear wall are uncovered by the inner
curtain. The second curtain of goat-hair is folded in like manner,
and its bronze rings also adorn the Tabernacle's entrance. The
doubled portion of this covering also measures 20 cubits in width
and is placed directly upon the innermost curtain, now with an
extra cubit on each of the two side walls. This extra cubit is folded
inward so as to envelop the curtain of fine linen, preventing it
from contacting the ground. One panel of goat-hair remains, so
this eleventh curtain is folded not at the entrance, but at the
Tabernacle's rear wall, in such a fashion that it meets vertically
half-way between the corners, completely covering the back wall.

TABERNACLE

169

Figure 30

There are many advantages to Friedman's model. Architecturally,


the doubled frames add increased stability to support the heavy
fabric and withstand the elements. The arrangement in effect
doubles the width of each wall, allowing for thinner frames.
Aesthetically, the anterior placement of the golden and bronze
rings creates a tasteful adornment not possible in the other
reconstructions.116 In addition, for the first time the fabric lies
upon the frames in a uniform fashion. Whereas previous models
resulted in a rear wall completely covered by fabric while the
bottom cubit of each side wall remained bare, with Friedman's
reconstruction the frames are totally covered by each curtain
(assuming an eight-cubit width). Finally, archaeology can be
invoked to support Friedman. A tenth-century Israelite shrine has
been unearthed at Arad featuring striking parallels to both the
Tabernacle and Temple. All three sanctuaries face east, and an
altar stands immediately before their openings. While the height
116
However, it must be noted that the adornment was for Yahweh and the rare
human with access to the Tabernacle. Similarly, King Tutankhamen's treasure
was for the pleasure and visual entertainment of those inside and for nobody
outside. So normal aesthetic considerations may be overriden by the purpose of
the architecture.

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CHAPTER EIGHT

of the structure at Arad is unknown, its dimensions are analogous


to Friedman's model, measuring 20 by 6 cubits.117
Still, despite the interesting parallels between the Tabernacle
and the sanctuary at Arad, the analogy is not perfect. As
mentioned, an eight-cubit width for the Tabernacle better
corresponds to the inner curtain's width (10+8+10=28).118
Moreover, the Arad sanctuary is a broad-room structure, meaning
the entrance is placed in one of the rectangle's long walls. The
Tabernacle and Temple are both long-room structures.
In 1995, Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz wrote a harsh critique of
both Friedman's model and his method.119 Below, each point of
Hurowitz's contention shall be addressed, and it will be shown that
Friedman's hypothesis remains tenable.
Hurowitz invokes two major problems.120 The first is Exod
26:9b, which reads ^rmn 'JIB ^rr1^ rrffiran nn^n~n^ rj^Mi,
traditionally translated "and you shall double the sixth curtain in
front of the Tabernacle's entrance," which would make it
impossible for the goat-hair curtain's bronze rings to be placed at
the front. Nevertheless, the phrase is cumbersome, and Hurowitz
himself admits, "This instruction has proven difficult to exegetes
. . ,"121 Moreover, the preposition biQ can be understood to mean
"opposite."122 Friedman is thus justified in translating this verse:
"and you shall double the sixth curtain opposite the Tabernacle's
entrance."
117
Richard E. Friedman ("Tabernacle," pp. 298-99) cites Yohanan Aharoni's
article "The Solomonic Temple, the Tabernacle, and the Arad Sanctuary," Orient
and Occident (ed. H. A. Hoffner, Jr.; Neukirchen, 1973).
118
Friedman has suggested in private communication that six cubits may be
the inside width and eight the exterior width due to the unknown thickness of the
frames and several layers of coverings. This would make the inner dimensions
match those of the Arad temple, allowing the outer surfaces to be completely
covered by fabric. However, it must be noted that to date, Syro-Palestinian
archaeology has not revealed two temples with identical measurements.
119
Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle:
Reflections on a Recent Proposal," JQR 86 (1995): pp. 127-51.
120
"The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p. 139.
121
"The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p. 137.
122
The preposition 'no is translated as "in front of always in the sense of
being across from something. For example, see Neh 12:38, where 'TNti'p (^bvty
means "on the opposite side." Still, we might have expected pawn Tiroo or
row1? prai -os in Exod 26:9.

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171

The second and final major point of contention that Hurowitz


raises with Friedman's model also involves the eleventh goat-hair
curtain. The Hebrew of Exod 26:12 indicates that half C^n) of the
remaining curtain is folded over the back of the Tabernacle.
Hurowitz argues that "half in this passage can only mean half
of the four-cubit goat-hair panel's width, or two cubits, and thus
the curtain is folded in half horizontally. This eliminates the eight
cubits needed by Friedman to cover the Tabernacle's back wall.
Despite Hurowitz's objection, it is possible that ^n implies not
half of four cubits, but half of the 30-cubit length, and thus the
curtain is folded in half vertically.
The llth Curtain Halved Vertically (Friedman) or Horizontally (Standard)

Figure 31

In this manner, half of the remaining curtain that extends upon


the Tabernacle's back, is folded to join vertically the other halfcurtain midway across the rear wall.123
Following these three points are what Hurowitz refers to as a
few "additional flaws of less vital import or of a more general
nature." 124 Hurowitz contends that gaps in the rear wall's frames
through which one might see the covering of goat-hair in the
Holy of Holies would be aesthetically unappealing in Friedman's
model.125 But Friedman's reconstruction of the rois eliminates
this as a problem, as it separates all viewers from the goat-hair
curtain on the rear wall.126 Hurowitz further claims that when
Friedman approximates six to eight cubits for the rear wall, "the
inconsistency is revealing."127 In fact, this reveals only Fried123

It is also possible that ^n refers to the entire single-ply llth panel, half
the thickness of the remaining, doubled fabric.
124
Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p.
134.
125
Ibid., p. 138.
126
See above for Friedman's reconstruction of the roia, pp. 156-58.
127
Victor (Avigdor) Hurowitz, "The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p.
139.

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CHAPTER EIGHT

man's unwillingness to be dogmatic when the data are ambiguous,


because the corner arrangement and frame-width are uncertain.
Hurowitz raises three other minor points of contention. First, he
claims that the Tabernacle's size should be determined by the
outermost curtain of goat-hair, rather than the curtain of fine
linen.128 Not so; the dimensions of both curtains must be
incorporated in any reconstruction of the Tabernacle. Hurowitz's
second objection is that the text does not explicitly state that the
curtains are to be folded in half and that the frames are to be
overlapping.129 As we have seen, many aspects of the Tabernacle
are not commented on, and all reconstructions are to a degree
speculative.130 It must be remembered that the text does not say
that the boards are to be placed side-by-side either. Hurowitz's
last point in defense of the standard model is that the 2:1 ratio
between the Tabernacle and the Temple does work, if one counts
not the height of the Temple, but the height of the Holy of
Holies.131 Yet, the other two dimensions yielding the 2:1 ratio are
based on the entire Temple, not just the ~r:n. Hurowitz cannot
have it both ways.
Finally, Hurowitz indicts Friedman for "backward methodology," i.e. manipulating the geometry to fit the Tabernacle
into the TTi.132 To speculate on the motives of ancient authors
such as the priestly writer is one thing, but concerning a living
scholar, one ought to be more circumspect.133 Friedman has told
me, and his students can confirm this, that he arrived at his
128

Ibid., pp. 140-41.


Ibid., p. 141.
130
For example, Hurowitz seems certain that the Tabernacle's standard
frames are .25 cubits thick, and he goes on to propose that the two corner frames
are either isosceles trapezoids or right trapezoids ("The Form and Fate of the
Tabernacle," p. 132). There is no textual support for either of these ideas.
131
Ibid., p. 139.
132
Ibid., p. 134.
133
The rhetoric throughout Hurowitz's article is extreme. Aside from
accusing Friedman of "backward methodology" (p. 134), he refers to Friedman's
arguments as "patently ridiculous" (p. 143), and writes: "Friedman's reconstruction of the Tabernacle is wrong in every detail, has not a shred of evidence
in its support, does serious harm to an understanding of the structure and the
texts describing it, and reflects a total disregard for the most fundamental pillars
of sound exegesis, and, in particular, concern for the Hebrew language" (p. 130).
Hurowitz's zeal to refute Friedman's model may have moved him to exagerate the
importance of the points on which he differed.
129

TABERNACLE

173

reduced model of the Tabernacle during a course that he gave on


this subject; it actually predated his theory that the Tabernacle
ever stood within the Temple. And both of these ideas originated
before he decided to date the priestly source to preexilic times.
In sum, contrary to Hurowitz, there is much to commend
Friedman's model.
Could the Tabernacle Have Stood in the Temple?
Over the past two decades, Friedman has taken claims for the
historicity of the Tabernacle to a new level. Not only did the
Temple house the Tabernacle's sacred furnishings, including the
Ark, Menorah, incense altar, and table of showbread, but
Friedman provocatively argues that the Tabernacle itself resided
within Jerusalem's Temple. Either the Tabernacle actually stood
erect in the Temple's Holy of Holies between the wings of the two
olivewood cherubim, or the sacred frames and fabric of the
disassembled Tabernacle were stored within the Temple's
treasury, with the cherubim's wings still symbolizing its presence
around the Ark.134
Friedman's primary evidence comes from 1 Kgs 8:4 (=2 Chr
5:5), which records that the tent of the appointed time (irifl ^rm)
accompanies the Ark and the sacred vessels from the City of
David into the Temple. The Tabernacle is never mentioned again
in the book of Kings, but two passages in Chronicles indicate that
at least until the end of Hezekiah's reign, the Tabernacle resided
within the Temple. Desiring to renovate the Temple, King Joash
inquires of the head Levite why the priests have not collected
funds "for the tent of the testimony" (nnyn ^rm1?).135 And in 2
Chr 29:6, Hezekiah initiates his religious reforms by
acknowledging that the current generation's fathers "acted
treacherously, and did the evil in the eyes of Yahweh our God,
and have forsaken Him and turned their faces from the
Tabernacle of Yahweh, and have given their backs." Passages
such as these suggest that for over two centuries following the
134
Cf. bSota 9a, where R. Hamuna says "After the First Temple was erected,
the tent of the appointed time was stored away, its boards, hooks, bars, pillars,
and sockets." R. Hamuna asks where they were stored, and R. Hisda replies:
"Beneath the crypts of the Temple."
135
2 Chr 24:6.

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Temple's completion, the Tabernacle continued to exist.


Alternatively, the Chronicler is reading 1 Kgs 8:4 literally, just as
Friedman does, and therefore has a tent in the temple. It must be
noted that these references to the Tabernacle are to a degree less
substantial in light of the interchange of terminology examined
above in chapter one. However, as we have seen, the use of terms
such as "tent" and "tabernacle" for permanent structures such
as the Temple is rare compared with the frequent use of terms
such as "house" and "temple" for tents.136 Moreover, 1 Kgs
8:4-6 is not amalgamating terms, because it clearly distinguishes
between the Temple and the tent of the appointed time.
Friedman then observes that the space created under the wings
of the Temple's two cherubim closely corresponds to his model
of the Tabernacle. The cherubim stand 10 cubits tall (1 Kgs 6:23),
and each owns a pair of wings five cubits in length (1 Kgs 6:24),
producing an overall wingspan of 10 cubits per cherub (Figure
32).

136

See pp. 16-24.

Tabernacls

Figure 32 Friedman's Cherubim and the Taberacle in the Temple

The cherubim face east toward the Temple's entrance, and are
placed side by side so that the tips of their outer wings meet the
side walls of the Holy of Holies, while the inner tips touch one
another (1 Kgs 6:27). The length of Friedman's Tabernacle's fits
perfectly in the 20 cubit chamber. However, the 10 cubit height
and six- to eight-cubit width of the Tabernacle are more difficult
to accommodate. For Friedman's model to fit, the underside of
each wing must suddenly bend in an awkward fashion.137 This is
137

Thus for a Tabernacle six cubits wide, the Holy of Holies' 20 cubit width
would be taken up as follows: three cubits from the wall to the point at which
first wing falls below 10 cubits, four cubits from this point to point where
second wing reaches a 10 cubit height (including body of first cherub), six cubits
housing the Tabernacle starting from the second wing's 10-cubit height to the
point at which the third wing drops below a 10-cubit height, four cubits for the
reduced-height wings and body of the second cherub, and finally three cubits to
the opposite wall. An eight-cubit wide Tabernacle is more problematic, as the
wings must reach the 10 cubit height only one cubit from the body's midpoint
(Figure 32).

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CHAPTER EIGHT

unlike the form of cherubim or winged creatures that exist in the


Syro-Palestinian material record (Plate 64).138
Hurowitz objects to the Tabernacle's situation within the Tirt
by contesting the historicity of Chronicles. Hurowitz writes,
"Much of Friedman's evidence for the Tabernacle in the Temple
thesis comes from the Book of Chronicles. It is curious that not a
shred of evidence comes from the older Book of Kings."139
Ignoring the evidence of 1 Kgs 8:4 (=2 Chr 5:5), Hurowitz attacks
the historical reliability of Chronicles on the grounds that it is a
late work. He writes: "Any independent statement of the
Chronicler must be assumed suspect unless proven otherwise."140
But Hurowitz uncritically attributes to the Chronicler texts that
Friedman and others have argued belong to the Chronicler's
source - a source that dates from the time when the First Temple
was still standing.141 Baruch Halpern has established the
likelihood that among the Chronicler's sources was a historical
document containing data on the Judean monarchy, ending
immediately after the reign of Hezekiah.142 Friedman suggests
that this source included information pertaining to the
Tabernacle.143 Moreover, while the narrative books of the Hebrew
Bible do not mention the Tabernacle after Hezekiah's reign, both
Ps 74:7 and Lam 2:6-7 seem to describe its fiery destruction
within the Temple at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his
Babylonian forces in 587 B.C.E.144 Hurowitz is again silent

138

This is Helga Weippert's main criticism of Friedman's reconstruction


("Review of Temples and High Places in Biblical Times and The Exile and
Biblical Narrative" ZDPV 199 [1984]: p. 184). Friedman has acknowledged
from the beginning that his cherubim are "unlike most extant examples" ("The
Temple in the Tabernacle," p. 242).
139
"The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p. 142.
140
Ibid., p. 142.
141
Hugh G. M. Williamson, 1 and 2 Chronicles (Grand Rapids, 1982).
142
Baruch Halpern, "Sacred History and Ideology," The Creation of Sacred
Literature, ed. Richard E. Friedman (Berkeley, 1981): pp. 35-54.
143
"Tabernacle," ABD VI, p. 294.
144
The words "his pavilion" (i3ia) and "his appointed time" (iiiJfo) in Lam 2:67 seem to be connected to the Tabernacle. See Friedman, "Tabernacle," ABD VI,
pp. 293-94. However, this passage may simply describe the destruction of the
Temple, given the interchangeability of domiciliary terms discussed above, pp.
16-24.

TABERNACLE

177

regarding these two explicit references to the Tabernacle within


the Temple.145
Further evidence now supports Friedman's theory. A Hittite
text attests to the placement of a tent before the gate of a temple,
and more astonishingly, the tent is said to reside within the
house.146
While Friedman's model of an erect Tabernacle in the Temple
has its own difficulties, none is sufficient to render it
impossible,147 though I prefer Friedman's second option, where
the Tabernacle's fabrics and boards are stored in the Temple
treasury.
A New Reconstruction of the Tabernacle
Each of the previously examined reconstructions of the
Tabernacle's form has strengths and weaknesses. No one solves
all the architectural problems. Given known woodworking
techniques from the ancient Near East, I prefer a reconstruction
that more adequately accounts for the textual specifications. Like
Friedman's reconstruction, the present theory looks at the
Tabernacle's form independent of the later Temple's dimensions.
1) Q^T)7, bases, and bars The D^TJ? are thin boards. This
accounts for the Priestly author's silence concerning the
thickness, and makes transportation feasible. Thus, if the D^-TJ? are
145

Instead, Hurowitz attacks Friedman's use of Josephus. Josephus writes


"So they carried the Ark and the Tabernacle which Moses had pitched, and all the
vessels that were for ministration to the sacrifices of God, and removed them to
the Temple" (Ant., VIH.iv.l). Here we find Hurowitz's only mention of the
critical passage in 1 Kgs 8:4: "Josephus adds absolutely nothing to what is
stated in 1 Kgs 8" ("The Form and Fate of the Tabernacle," p. 143).
146
For further detail, see Moshe Weinfeld, "Social and Cultic Institutions in
the Priestly Source," p. 104.
147
Since its initial publication, Friedman's proposal has met with various
reactions. Helga Weippert, in her review of Friedman's The Exile and Biblical
Narrative, calls the reconstruction "erwagenswert" ("Review of Temples and
High Places in Biblical Times and The Exile and Biblical Narrative" ZDPV 199
[1984]: p. 184). Moreover, Frank M. Cross, Jr., one of the major proponents of
the 30 by 10 cubit Tabernacle, concedes apropos of Friedman's theory: "It's a
thoroughly defendable position (The Wall Street Journal, Oct 9 [1987]: pp. 1,
17). Criticism has likewise been forthcoming. Graham I. Davies, also reviewing
The Exile and Biblical Narrative, finds Friedman's argument "unconvincing,"
and his measurements "arbitrary," JTS 34 (1983): p. 224.

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CHAPTER EIGHT

each four fingers thick as Josephus argued (see figure 110), each
would weigh c. 64.3 kgs/141.75 Ibs. This also corresponds to the
thickness of the gilded boards used to construct Tiye's shrine
(figure 53), and the thickness of Tutankhamen's catafalque
(figures 46 and 48). The silver bases add virtually nothing to the
height.148 Each board has four tenons: two on the bottom which
fit into mortises in the bases (Exod 26:19), and two on one side to
fit with mortises in the neighboring board (26:17). The poles
which run along the exterior are also approximately four fingers
thick (=0.2 cubits).

Figure 33 - The Form of a ahp

2) Two Corner Boards Each corner frame is composed of one


Khp, vertically divided in half, with the halves joined together at a
right angle (Figure 34). This is done because of the allotment of
silver bases. Each standard Ehp is supported by two bases. Each
corner is composed of two boards, but are again only provided
with a total of two bases (Exod 26:25). Therefore, the simplest
solution is to maintain the ratio of 2hp to base, and divide each
148
Exod 38:27 records that the 96 silver bases of the &v~}p and the four silver
bases of the n?TS weigh 100 talents (= c. 3000 kg). Thus each individual base
weighs about 30 kg, not enough to extend the Tabernacle's overall height more
than a cm or two.

TABERNACLE

179

corner ahp in half, and join them together. Furthermore, this


method of construction finds a strong parallel in the corner
frames of Hetepheres's tent (Plates 46, 59). Exod 26:24 states that
the corner boards shall be double (QQHh) from below and joined
(cran) on top. These two terms are interpreted as woodworking
synonyms, both meaning that the two boards composing each
corner are coupled both at the bottom and at the top.149
However, the widths of each corner are not uniform, due to the
four finger thickness of the boards (again, see figure 34). Thus,
one side is .75 cubits (1/2 of a tfhp), while the other side is .95
cubits, resulting from the .75 cubit width plus the four finger
thickness (4 fingers = 0.2 cubits).

Figure 34 - Proposed Corner Frames of the Tabernacle

In our model, we put the longer dimension (.95 cubit) on the side
walls. This means that the corner frames add .75 cubit to the back
wall's width, and .95 cubit to the overall length. When assembled,
the Tabernacle's back wall measures 10.5 cubits while the side
walls each measure 30.95 cubits (30 cubits from the 20 boards
plus .75 cubits from corner boards plus 0.2 cubits thickness)
(Figure 35). This is similar to the traditional 30 x 10 model,
except that the back now gains .5 cubits and the sides .95 cubit
from the proposed corner pieces. The text is silent concerning the
dimensions of the bars. We propose they are four fingers thick,
and thus slightly increase the overall exterior dimensions of the
149

man)

See p. 138 above for a textual variant (Samaritan and LXX read op^h for

180

CHAPTER EIGHT

Tabernacle. Now, the final dimensions of the Tabernacle that the


curtains will cover is as follows:
Height=10 cubits
Length=31.15 cubits (30 cubits + .95 corners + 0.2 bars)
Width=10.9 (9 cubits + 1.5 from 2 corners + 0.4 from 2 bars)

Figure 35 - Dimensions of the Tabernacle

3) Fabric The curtain of linen measures 40 x 28 cubits (Exod


26:1-6). The curtain of goat-hair is 44 x 30 cubits (Exod 26:7-9).

TABERNACLE

181

The sixth curtain of goat-hair is folded in half (Exod 26:9) at the


Tabernacle's entrance, and thus produces an overall dimension
for the outer curtain of 42 x 30 cubits (Figure 36).

Figure 36 - Fold of the Sixth Curtain and the Dimensions of the Curtains

When the curtains are laid one on top of the other, now one cubit
of the curtain of goat-hair remains on each of the Tabernacle's
long sides, as dictated by Exod 26:13. Moreover, on the
Tabernacle's back, half of a curtain (2 cubits) hangs beyond the
curtain of fine linen, as stated in Exod 26:12. The lay of the
curtains is depicted in Figure 37.

182

CHAPTER EIGHT

Figure 37 - The Curtain of Linen on Top of the Goat-Hair Curtain

This arrangement of the curtains best adheres to the textual


specifications. The way that the curtains lie upon the boards is
shown in Figure 38.

Figure 38 - Proposed Tabernacle Boards With Curtains

The benefits of this model are that it arises from the simple
reading of the text, and it uses known woodworking techniques
from antiquity. However, like all models of the Tabernacle, there

TABERNACLE

183

is a problem. Now there is .85 cubit of the curtain of goat-hair left


on the ground, a feature that would be unlikely. This excess
curtain could be folded inward to envelope the curtain of fine
linen. But why would this not be done uniformly on the other two
sides?
It seems the best way to overcome this problem is to alter the
placement of the fold of the sixth curtain. If, instead of folding it
directly in half as shown in Figure 36, the sixth curtain is folded
0.7 cubits from its juncture with the fifth curtain, it now lies more
uniformly upon the Tabernacle's boards and bars.

Folding the Sixth Curtain

Figure 39 - Proposed Folding of the Sixth Curtain

Figure 40 - Lay of Two Curtains With Sixth Curtain Folded at 0.7 Cubits

This leaves a uniform .45 cubits of the boards uncovered on each


of the three sides of the Tabernacle, as seen in Figure 41.

184

CHAPTER EIGHT

Figure 41 - Curtains on Boards with Sixth Curtain of Goat-Hair Folded at 0.7


Cubits

While this arrangement is preferable in that the curtains end


uniformly at .45 cubits off the ground, fidelity to the text is
sacrificed to a degree. While one cubit still remains on the two
sides of the Tabernacle (Exod 26:13), now the sixth curtain is not
evenly doubled (26:9), and instead of half a curtain remaining in
the back (26:12), now there is 0.7 curtain extending beyond the
curtain of linen.
Will the Real Tabernacle Please Stand Up: The Quest for an
Unobtainable Solution and Other Conclusions
In conclusion, despite P's unprecedented attention to the detail
concerning the Tabernacle's form, the precise shape continues to
be unknown. While some models, such as the sloped-roof, are
easily discarded, not even the best reconstructions solve all of the
architectural and textual difficulties. The main point is, however,
that the many parallels to the Tabernacle in form and function
support its historicity; the Tabernacle as described by the Priestly
author likely existed in early Iron Age Israel.
This book's final chapter explores the biblical expression "To
your tents, O Israel!" in the context of the many tent functions
previously examined (domestic, military, love, religious). Similar

TABERNACLE

185

calls to tents in Egypt and Ugarit support the idea that it was a
widespread formula to disband assemblies in societies in which
tents at one time were the dominant form of habitation. Thus, by
examining this expression, greater insight into the important role
tents played in the ancient Near East will be revealed.

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CHAPTER NINE

TO YOUR TENTS, O ISRAEL! THE LEGACY OF A TENT


HERITAGE IN AN ARCHAIC PROCLAMATION OF
DISBANDMENT
The phrase "To your tents, O Israel!" is
enigmatic, as for house-dwelling urbanites, a
call to tents is unexpected. The many functions
of tents in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near
East previously explored provide insight into
this biblical proclamation, as do parallels from
Ugarit and Egypt. It will be shown that the
expression "To your tents, O Israel!" is part of
a widespread legal formula for disbanding
councils in the ancient Near East.

To Your Tents, O Israel! Some Possible Interpretations


Sheba's rebellion against King David in 2 Sam 20:1 begins by
sounding the trumpet, followed by the proclamation: "There is
no portion for us in David, and no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
Every man to his tents, O Israel!" Years later, the Israelites reject
Rehoboam's regal claim with a similar idiom: "What portion have
we in David? And no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your
tents, O Israel! Now see to your own house, David!" (1 Kgs
12:16=2 Chr 10:16). This formula for political rejection seems
out of place in the monarchical period, as the majority of the
population are not tent-dwellers; rather, they live in houses.
Difficulties in understanding this enigmatic call to tents began
at an early date, as 2 Sam 20:1 and 1 Kgs 12:16 are two of the
more famous cases where scribal corrections were posited by early
Rabbinic tradition. Rather than read T^nfo1? "to your tents," this
interpretation claims ^n^N1? "to your gods" is the original
reading, suggesting that Israel had apostatized.1 Further evidence
of difficulty comes from the LXX, which translates the MT phrase
1
See Peter R. Ackroyd, // Samuel, Cambridge Bible Commentary (London,
1977): p. 188; Samuel R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of
Samuel (Oxford, 1890): p. 340.

188

CHAPIERNINE

"Now see (nirn) to your own house" as "Now shepherd ((SoOKe/


run) your own house."2 This reading corresponds to the use of
tents by pastoral herders, as well as to the image of the king as
shepherd. While these two emendations are quite unlikely, they
suggest that the original expression was problematic for early
interpreters.
Modern interpretations of "To your tents, O Israel!" do not
emend the text, but they still significantly vary. For example,
Robert H. Smith understands the phrase as a call to return to
desert origins.3 There is much merit to this suggestion, as tents
symbolize an egalitarian past, whereas the king epitomizes the
stratified trappings of urbanism.4 Nevertheless, events that occur
after the proclamation do not support this interpretation. The
people do not return to a tent-dwelling life, but continue to live in
urban houses. More important, in 1 Kings 12, a new king is
quickly anointed (12:20), proving that the people intended no
abandonment of monarchy per se.
Alternatively, John Gray understands the tents in the
proclamation not as a symbol for a former way of life, but as "the
tents where the representatives of the tribes camped during the
tribal gathering at Shechem."5 Thus the call to tents would
parallel Achilleus' sulking in his hut at the onset of Homer's
Iliad.6 We have seen that tents are a big part of ancient military
campaigning, and it is likely that many of the tribal representatives gathered at Shechem were dwelling in tents. However,
these tents are not mentioned in the surrounding passages.
Albrecht Alt argues that at Dtr's late date of composition,
"tent" had become synonymous with "house." 7 The two terms
certainly blend in usage, as we have seen in Chapter 1. Yet, the
fact that the call to tents in 1 Kings 12 is followed by the utterance
"Now see to your own house (rva), David," suggests more than a
2

Note also Targum Jonathan, which corresponds to the LXX, using the verb
"p'TD.
3
Robert H. Smith, "Arabia," ABD I, p. 327.
4
On the symbolism of tents and praise for their inhabitants in the Hebrew
Bible, see pp. 7-9; 35-38.
5
John Gray, II Kings (Philadelphia, 1963): p. 306.
6
As pointed out by Baruch Halpem.
7
Albrecht Alt, "Zelt und Hiitten," Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes
Israel III, pp. 239-42.

TO YOUR TENTS

189

semantic conflation. The people are playing with the opposition


between "tent" and "house."
A superior interpretation is presented by Abraham Malamat,
who understands the phrase as a formula for assembly
disbandment.8 Malamat's case is improved through examining
the events that follow the proclamations. In 2 Samuel 20, only
Judah remains loyal to David, while the Israelites follow Sheba.
Eventually David's forces catch up with Sheba, besieging him and
his subjects within the walls of Abel. Upon Sheba's death, Joab
blows the trumpet, and the followers of Sheba withdraw from
Abel, and Joab's troops disband "every man to his tent" (2 Sam
20:22). This clarifies that the meaning of the proclamation is not
martial; it simply means that the rebellion is over, and now the
people will go home. Also in 1 Kgs 12:16=2 Chr 10:16, the call
to tents is followed by the phrase "so Israel departed to their
tents." Thus again, it is not a call to arms, nor a call to desert
wanderings. It is an archaic vestige of former days of tentdwelling, legally signifying the end of the assembly.
Other passages not discussed by Malamat bolster his case.
Joshua 22 tells of the allotment of territories for the
Transjordanian tribes at Shiloh. When Reuben, Gad, and half of
Manasseh leave the collective assembly for their land, they go "to
their tents."9 Also in 1 Sam 13:2, when Saul has more soldiers
than he needs, he sends the remainder "each to his tent." And
again, Solomon gathers an assembly for a feast when the Temple
is completed, and when the celebration has ended, his subjects
"blessed the king, and went to their tents" (1 Kgs 8:66). In these
examples, the end of the gathering is signified by an idiom
involving movement towards tents.
The interpretation of "To your tents, O Israel" as a formula
for assembly disbandment finds further support in Judges 20,
where the Israelites gather at Mizpah to collectively punish the
inhabitants of Gibeah for the murder of the Levite's concubine.10
8
Abraham Malamat, "Organs of Statecraft in the Israelite Monarchy," BA 28
(1965): p. 39-40. See also Georg Fohrer, "Der Vertrag zwischen Konig und Volk
in Israel," ZAW 71 (1959): p. 8.
9
Josh 22:4, 6-7. Josh 22:9 makes it clear that the tents referred to are not
simply the tent-encampments gathered at Shiloh, but their newly acquired
homes.
10
This passage is mentioned by Malamat, p. 40.

190

CHAPTER NINE

The people express their unity by stating, "None of us will go to


his tent, nor will any turn back to his house" (Jug 20:8). Thus the
call to tents is not a declaration of war, but the opposite. The
refusal to return to tents signifies that the tribes are standing as a
united front.
To Your Tents, O Israel, O Ugarit, and O Egypt! The Meeting is
Adjourned
Two Late Bronze extra-biblical sources, one from Ugarit and one
from Egypt, further confirm Malamat's interpretation.11 An
Ugaritic divine council is summoned to bestow their blessings on
Kirta. The assembly ends with the following words:
tbrk ilm tity
tity ilm lahlhm
dr il Imsknthm

The gods bless, they go


The gods go to their tents
The circle of El to their tabernacles.12

Thus, just as in the biblical passages, the meeting is adjourned by


retreating to tents. While El lives in a tent, the majority of the
pantheon inhabit permanent temples. Thus, it is again noteworthy
that the gods do not retreat to houses.13
A New Kingdom Egyptian text strongly resembles both the
biblical and Ugaritic passages. In the "Contest of Horus and
Seth," the Ennead quarrels and following some name-calling, the
text reads "And they [gods] went to their tents (}imw). The great
god [Re] slept in his pavilion (s/*)."14 Again, nearly all of the
11

See Michael M. Homan, "To Your Tents, O Egypt, Canaan, and Israel: An
Ancient Formula for Council Disbandment," UF 31 (2000): pp. 237-40.
12
CAT 1.15.III.17-19. Elsewhere Kothar departs for his tent (ahl), also
called a tabernacle (m$kn) in CAT 1.17.V.32.
13
Note the contrary formula from a ritual text at Mari, in which after a
donkey sacrifice inside tent frames (qe-er-su-ii), the divine assembly departs to
their houses and the king to his palace (Florilegium Marianum III.4.ii.7-14).
14
For translation see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature
(Berkeley, 1976): p. 216, and ANET p. 15. For the Egyptian text see Alan H.
Gardiner, Late Egyptian Stories (Brusells, 1932): p. 41 (3,13). This text is
notably absent in discussions of divine assemblies. See for example E. Theodore
Mullen, Jr., The Assembly of the Gods (Missoula, MT, 1980): pp. 3-4, who

TO YOUR TENTS

191

Egyptian pantheon live in temples, so the gods going to tents is


peculiar.
It now seems clear that departing to tents is a widespread
formula for disbanding assemblies, divine at Ugarit and Egypt,
secular in the Hebrew Bible. The parallel is part of a larger set of
correspondances in the terminology of public gatherings. For
example, both the Ugaritic and biblical examples employ the root
y'd for the assembly, at Ugarit mcd, at Shechem rnyn.15
In all three literatures, first the masses are dismissed, and then
the higher-ranking leaders. At Ugarit the ordinary gods depart to
their tents, then the head of the pantheon El and his entourage go
to their tabernacles. At Egypt, the ordinary gods go to their tents,
then Re the head of the pantheon sleeps in his pavilion. And in 1
Kgs 12:16, the call for the citizens of Israel to depart for their
tents is followed by the call for the king to look after his own
house.16
When these texts were composed, all three societies were
dominantly urban. However, all three societies claimed a heritage
of nomadic tent-dwelling. Israel's tent-dwelling past has been
examined previously.17 At Ugarit, the elder head of the pantheon,
El, lives in a tent while the younger gods dwell in houses. In any
case, a nomadic tent-dwelling heritage is often assumed for the
Northwest Semitic peoples, including the citizens of Ugarit.18 In
Egypt, Min has many similarities to Ugaritic El: he is seen as the
eldest god, the early head of the Egyptian pantheon, and he also
continues to live in a tent.19 Thus it seems that the widespread call
states that the Canaanite/Hebrew concept of divine assembly stems from
Mesopotamia with no Egyptian parallels. Also John A. Wilson, "The Assembly
of a Phoenician City," JNES 4 (1945): p. 245, who calls attention to the
Phoenician assembly (mw'd) in the Egyptian text of Wenamun but is again
silent on the Contest.
15
1 Kgs 12:20. 2 Chr 10:3 leaves out "assembly," using instead "all Israel."
For the Ugaritic assembly, see E. Theodore Mullen, Jr., The Divine Council in
Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature.
16
In 2 Sam 20:1, however, nothing is said about David departing to or
looking after any sort of domicile. However, two verses later, David does return
to his house in Jerusalem, where he deals with the concubines violated by
Absalom (2 Sam 20:3).
17
See chapter 3, pp. 29-45.
18
See pp. 94-99.
19
See pp. 109-110.

192

CHAPTER NINE

to return to tents as a formula for assembly disbandment is a


survival from a nomadic, egalitarian past, a verbal fossil still
remembered.
Conclusion
Tents played an integral role in the ancient Near East. Their vast
quantity and importance have been examined above from both
historical and archaeological perspectives. More specifically, the
historicity of the claim of a tent-dwelling heritage made by
various authors of the Hebrew Bible has been strengthened. Tents
served many purposes in ancient Israel, including domestic,
military, nuptial, and religious. Most, if not all of these aspects are
evoked in the cry, "To your tents, O Israel."

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TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX


HEBREW BIBLE
Genesis
4

4:20
6:14-16
9:20-27
9:21
9:27
9:27
12-50
12:8
13:3
13:5
13:12
13:18
16:15
18:1
18:1-2
18:6
18:6-10
18:9
18:10
23:4
24:67
25:2
25:16
25:25
25:25-26
25:27
26:25
27:15
27:16
27:40
28:17-19
29-30
29:27-28
31:25
31:33
32:3
33:17
33:18
33:18-19
33:19

35
35:14-15
36
36
132
82
29
29
12
42

16, 26, 29, 30


29
29

8, 29
8, 29
30
30
29

29, 30
81
29

29, 30
43

29, 30, 81
30

14, 30-31
57

30
29

16, 26
23
57
42
24
33
81
29-30

29, 81
16
10, 23
30
29
16, 26

35:21
35:22
36

36:2
36:5
36:14
36:25
36:41
41:48
49:3-4
49:13

Exodus
2:21
14-15
15:3
15:15
15:17
16:7
16:16
18:7
19:15
24:10
25-26
25:9
25:13-15
25:18-22
25:22
25:23-30
25:40
26:1-6
160, 180
26:6
26:7-9
26:7-10
26:7-13
26:9
181, 184
26:11
26:12
26:13

33
24

16, 29
86
31
120
120
120
120
120
31
86
12
30
115
115
59
8
32
32
32
85
132
166

34, 98
97
97

97-98
97
98

151-152,
160
180
161
153

161, 170,
161

171, 181, 184


166, 181, 184

216

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

26:14
26:14-15
26:15-25
26:16
26:19
26:23-24
26:24
26:25
26:26-29
26:31-35
26:33
26:36-37
27:1
27:1-8
27:8
27:19
28:32
30:18
31:6
33:7
33:7-11
33:8
35-40
35:18
35:30-36:1
35:34
36:1-2
38:7
38:20
38:21
38:23
38:27
38:31
39:32
39:40
40:1
40:2
40:3
40:6
40:17-18
40:17-33
40:21
40:29

155
163
137-138
159
178
160
148, 179
178
148
156
157
158
127
130
147
15
123
127
120
16, 26
9, 98
32
137
15
97
120
120
147
15
11
120
144, 178
15
11
15
137
11, 135
11, 157
11
137
73
157
11

Leviticus
14:8
14:34
15:18
16:16
17:4
21:13

32
20
85
11
11
87

23:34
24:5-6

10
130

Numbers
1:1
1:3
1:46
1:50
1:50-53
1:53
2
2:12-14
2:27-29
3:26
3:37
4:5
4:25-27
4:26
4:31-32
4:32
7:1
7:3
7:6-7
7:89
7:89
9:15
9:18
9:22
10:1-10
10:11
10:15-16
10:31
11:10
11:16-30
12:4-10
12:5
12:10
13:26
16:9
16:24
16:26-27
16:27
17:22-23
17:23
17:28
18:2
19:13
19:14
19:14-16
20-36
24:2

135
116
3
11
15
11
32-33
33
33
15
15
157
145
15
145
15
85
92, 101
145
97
98
9, 11
11
11
116
11, 135
116
16
32
98
98
9
9
135
11
11
32
11
9
11
11
9, 11
11
32
20
135
32

217

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

24:5

7, 12, 32, 37,

94

24:6
25:4
25:6
25:6-9
25:8
25:9
25:15
25:25
31:10
31:16
32:41
33:49

8
85
11
84
85
13, 84, 92
84
31
85
14, 30
84
14
138

Deuteronomy
1:27
2:14
3:14
5:30
11:6
16:7
16:13-16
20:5-8
22:15
23:8
23:12-14
23:14
26:5
31:10
31:14-15
32:41-42
33:12
33:16
33:28

32
135
14
32
32
32
10
17
87
30
77
15
32
10
9
115
12
12
12

Joshua
1-11
3:14
4:19
5:10
6:11
6:14
6:24
7:21
7:22
9:6
10:5
10:6
10:31

114
32
16, 77, 135
16, 77, 135
77
77
24
32
62, 76
135
16
135
16, 77

25

10:34
10:43
11:10
13:3
13:26
13:30
15:46
18:1
19:51
21:17
21:36
22
22:4
22:6-7
22:6-8
22:9

Judges
4
4-5
4:11
4:18-19
4:21-22
4:22
5
5
5:17
5:24
5:26
6:4
7:1
7:8
7: 13
7:22
10:4
13:25
14:12
14:17
15:17
15:24
16:4
18:12
18:31
19:9
19:18
20
20:8
20:16
20:19

16, 77
135
31
31
16
14, 16
31
135
135
136
16
189
32, 189
189
32
189
37
76

16, 26
37
15

37, 81
31
37
12
76
15
16
30

18, 30
30
138
14
16
81
81
24
24
15
16

24, 134
17
24
189

16, 18, 190


75

16, 77

218
1 Samuel
1-4
1:7
1:9
1:24
2:22
3:3
4:1
4:4
4:10
6:7
11:1
13:2
13:5
13:16
15:34
17:5
17:38
17:40
17:50
17:54
76, 116
21:1-6
21:5-6
21:9
25:29
31:10
2 Samuel
2:8
2:12
2:29
3:7
6
6:2
6:17
137
7:2
7:5-6
7:6
11:9
11:11
11:11-13
12:8
12:11-12
12:15
12:20
12:28
15-16
15:25
16:20-22

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

135
134
24
134
24, 84, 135
24, 97, 134
16, 77
97
17
101
16
18, 189
16, 77
16
17
75
75
75
75
20, 62-63,
135
85
116
75
76, 116

16
16
16
86
19
97
16, 20, 134,
14
34
135-136
17
10, 63, 77-78
85
86
86
17
23
16
86
14
85

17:10
17:24
17:27
18:17
19:9
19:33
20
20:1
191
20:3
20:22
22:12
23:11
23:23
1 Kings
2:8
2:17-25
2:28-30
3:4-5
4:13
4:14
6
6-7
6:2
6:2-10
6:5
6:15-38
6:23
6:24
6:27
7:1-12
7:6
7:15-22
7:15-51
7:27-39
7:28-29
7:49
7:49
8:4
176-177
8:4-6
8:65-66
8:66
12
12:16
12:20
16:15
20:12
20:16
189, 191

8
16
16
17
17
16
189
5, 18, 187,
191
17, 189
10, 14
15
16

16
86
9
136
14
16
137
123
2, 167
132
126
132
174
174
175
132
15
124
132
103
143
124
130
137, 173,
174
85
17, 189
188
18
5, 188, 191
16
10, 78
10, 78, 187,

219

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX


22:19

116

2 Kings
7
7:7-10
7:8-10
7:16
14:12
18-19
19:15
19:35
23:7
25
25:1
25:7

77
62
75
77
17
63, 68
97
77
23, 123
136
16, 77
63

Isaiah
1:8
4:5
4:5-6
4:6
7:13
12:16
13:20
15:4
16:5
19:9
22:16
33:20
37:16
38:12
40:22
41:19
51:16
54:2
54:2-3
59:17
61:10
62:5

10
132
10, 13
15
19
19
8
152
19
123
11
14, 15
97
9
9, 13, 34
138
8
11, 14, 94
26
75
85
85

Jeremiah
7:12
7:14
10:12
10:18
10:20
24:6
26:6
26:9
30:18
32:41

136
136
15, 16, 132
75
15, 16
8
136
136
9, 11, 20, 94
8

35
35:7
37:10
43:10
46:4
50:7
51:30
52
52:4

37
37
62, 75
13, 26
75
14
11
136
77

Ezekiel
1:22
16
16:3
16:10
16:45
23
23:24
25:4
27
27:5
27:6
27:10
29:12
36:36
37:27
38:5
40-48
40:49
41:25-26

132
85
50-51
155
50-51
120
75
11, 14
146
146
146
75
31
8
23
75
132
124, 126
15

Hosea
2:16-18

85

Joel
2:16
4:18

13, 80
138

Amos
4:10
9:11
9:15

77
10
8

Nahum
3:17

16

Habakkuk
1:6
3:7

11
30

220
Zechariah
4:2
10:4
12:7
14:16-19
Malachi
2:2
2:12
Psalms
8:3-4
15:1
18:12
19:4
19:5-6
24:8
26:8
27:4-6
27:5
31:21
43:3
45:9
45:14
46:5
49:12
60:7
68:11
69:26
74:7
78:51
78:55
78:60
78:60-61
80:1
83:7
83:6
83:7
84:10
84:11
99:1
99:5
103:21
104:2-3
104:2
105:12-13
108:8
120:5
132:3
132:5-7
132:7

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

130
15

132:8
132:14

9, 20

Job

10

4:17
4:21
5:24
8:22
11:14
12:16
15:15
15:34
18:15
21:28
22:23
25:5
26:7
26:7-9
27:18
31:26
36:29
39:6
41:10-8

20
9
8
21

10, 14
34
9, 13, 80, 132
115

11, 22
21
14
14
22
8
80
22
11
75
15
14

11, 22, 176


31
32
135
136
97
9
30

20, 30
38
16
97
97
116
26

14, 16, 34
32
75
20
19-20
22
97

21
21
8
15
14
37
37
37
8
37

14, 37
16
37
8
16
132
10
8
10
11

Proverbs
7:17
14:11
26:8

75

Song of Songs
1:5
3:7-10
4:14

37
80
8

Lamentations
2:4
2:6
2:6-7

8, 21
16, 37

9, 20
10
176

Daniel
11:45

8, 62, '

Ezra
3:4
6:3

10
167

Nehemiah
8:14-17
9:6
12:38

10
116
170

221

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX


1 Chronicles
1:52
2:23
3:20
6:17
6:33
6:65
9:23
12:2
13:6
16:1
16:19-20
16:39
17:1
17:5
17:9
21:29
28:2

120
14
120
11
11
16
24
75
97
16, 136
32
135-136
14
135-136
8
135
97

2 Chronicles
1
1:3
1:3-4
1:5
1:5-13
1:13
5:5
7:8-9
10:3
10:16
189
14:14
24:6
25:22
26:14
29:6
34:11
36

10
9, 173
17
75
173
26
136

APOCRYPHA
Judith
13
13:15

76, 77, 83
83

136
135
136
136
136
135
137, 173, 176
85
191
5, 18, 187,

Tobit
8:20

81

NEW TESTAMENT
Matthew
17:4

Mark
9:5

Luke
9:33

John
1:14
3:29

1
80

Acts
18:3

74

2 Corinthians
5:1

Hebrews
9:23

132

PSEUDEPIGRAPHA
1 Enoch 14

132

EGYPTIAN SOURCES
64
Sinuhe 109-110
110
Sinuhe 110
110
Sinuhe 145
11
Contest of Horus and Seth
Qedesh Record
112-113
Urk IV 655.15-656.13
114
116
ARE III
36
Amarna Letters
110
Wenamun 1.47-48
MESOPOTAMIAN SOURCES
Sumerian Marriage of Martu
Sumerian Lament for the
Destruction of Ur
Curse of Akkad 194
Curse of Akkad 209

35
116
116

MARI
FM III.4.ii.7-14

117

UGARJTIC SOURCES
CAT
1.1-11
1.1. III. 23
1.1.III.23-24
1.1. IV. 13-20
1.2.1.14-31
1.2.1.20

35

96
98
25 , 95
98
97
98

222
1.2.1.36-37
1. 2. V. 33-35
.3. IV. 1-9
.3. IV. 16-17
.3.V.11
.3.V.21
.3.V.26-27
.3.V.46-52
1.4.1.10-19
1.4.1.13-19
1.4.1.33-39
1.4.IV.23-24
1.4.IV. 52-57
1.5.VI.1-2
1.6.1.34-36
1.6.1.43-65
1.14. III. 159-162
1.15. III. 17-19 25,

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

98
98
99
95
97
25, 96
97-98
99
99
25, 96
97
25, 95
25, 96
95
25, 95
98
70, 99
81, 94,
98, 190
9
1.15. III. 18
25, 94
1.15.III.18-19
12
1.15. III. 19
96
1.17
25, 96
1.17.1.32-33
25, 96
1.17. II. 4-5
25, 96
1.17. II. 21-22
95-96
1.17.VI.48-49
1.17.V.32
9, 99, 190
12
1. 17. V. 32-33
83
1.19-20
69
1.19. IV. 49-50
9
1.19.IV.50-52
25, 94, 99
1.19.IV.50-60
9
1.19. IV. 60
94
1.19.IV.213-214
25
1.21.8
25, 96
1.114.12
95
2.III.5
12
2.III.20
12
2.33.23
12
2.39.6
3. V. 15-16
95
96
3.V.47-48
12
4.245.1.3
12
4.335.28
94
19. IV. 213-214
49.IV.34
100
100
49.VI.26-27
KTU
132
1.4. V. 18-19
132
I.4.V. 33-35

PRU
3:16.144
RABBINIC/JEWISH SOURCES
Rashi,
On Exodus 26
2, 139,
Maimonides,
Guide for the Perplexed
Mishna,
Ta'anith 2:1
Ketubot 1.3
bShab 98a-b
bSota 9a
Pesikta Rabbati 31:6
Pesikta de-Rab Kahana 149b
Baraita de-Melekhet
ha-Mishkan

86

163
2
104
87
139
173
132
81
139

CLASSICAL (AND OTHER)


SOURCES
Athenaeus,
Deipnosophistae
12 , 72
82
XII.538d
Aeschylus,
Persians
1000
70
Augustine,
Quaestiones in Exodum
104-40
2
Augustine,
Locutiones in Exodum
114-27, 145-69
2
Bede,
De tabernaculo
1-139
2
Homiliae
2.1, 2.24, 25
2
Diodorus of Sicily
1.15
101
20.25
101
20.65
70, 76, 101
Eusebius,
PE
1.10.10.31-32
103
1.10.12-13
99
Homer,
Odyssey
62
Iliad
62, 188
IX: 107
70
IX:226
70
IX: 663
70

TEXTUAL CITATION INDEX

70
IX:669
70
X:66
70
XII:1
XXIV:448
70
11
XXIV:448-453
Herodotus,
Histories
101
11.63
68
11.141
71
VIMOO
VII:119
11, 71-72
IX.70
11 , 72
72
IX:80
Isaac Newton,
2
The Temple of Solomon
Jerome,
2
Epistula 64
Josephus,
Antiquities
3.6
24, 132
3.6.3
144, 161
2
3.102-87
177
8.4.1
75
9.77-80
Wars
73
3.5.1
10
6.5.3
73
9.7
73
10.1
74
Livy XXXI. 34. 8
Lucian of Samosata,
Concerning the
Syrian Goddess
103
4
102
30-31
102
33
Origen,
Homiliae in
2
Exodum 9.13
De principiis
2
4.2.2

Philo, Moses
11.16-23
11.18
11.71-135
11.148
Questions and
Solutions in Exodus
11.51-124
Philo of Byblos,
810:28
Polybius
VI.27
VI.27-42
VI.31-32
VI.32
Plutarch,
Life of Pericles 13.5
Pseudo-Hyginus
XXI
Quintus Curtius Rufus,
History of Alexander
5.2.7
10.5-6
Skylax,
Periplus
112
Virgil,
Aeneid
7.126-29
Xenophon,
Cyropaedia
II. i. 25-28
II.i.30
II. iii. 21-22
IV.ii.ll
VIII.v.2-16
VIII.v.3
Anabasis
I.v.10
I.vi.5-11
II.iv.28
IV.iv.21

223
132
144
2
163
2

24
73
73, 116
73
73
71
73
115
73
110

62
11, 71
72
72
11, 71
11
71, 114

72
72
72
72

This page intentionally left blank

SUBJECT INDEX
Aaron 1, 84, 120-23, 133
Abel 36
Abishag 86
Abner 86
Abraham 1, 16, 23, 29-30, 42-43,
93
Absalom 17-18, 85-87, 191
AbuSimbel 66, 113
Abydos 66
acacia 138-40
Achilleus 70, 188
Adam 93
Adams, Russell B. 56
Adonijah 86
Aeschylus 71
Aharoni, Yohanan 127, 148
Ahithophel 86
Ahituv, Yosef 155
Ain Dara 123, 126
Akhenaten 109-11
Alexander the Great 61, 82
altar 70, 130, 136, 147, 169, 173
Amon 109
Amorite 35, 42
Anath 99
Aqhat 69, 83, 96
Arad 123, 126-28, 170
Aramaeans 41
Ark 4, 10-11, 14, 17, 19-20, 23,
78, 85, 89-91, 113, 121, 123,
127, 134, 136-37, 166
Asher 33
Asherah 23
Ashurbanipal 69
Athenaeus 72-73
Augustine 2
Baal 99, 132
Balaam 32
Baraita de-Melekhet ha-Mishkan
139, 164
Bede 2

Bedouin 4, 39, 48, 54, 69-70, 7778, 90, 152, 165


Ben-Hadad 75,78
Bezalel 97
Bildad the Shuhite 37
Bilhah 29, 33
booth(s) 9-11, 14, 21, 35-36, 7778, 101, 105
Byblos 110
camp (Assyrian) 63, 68-69, 77
camp (Carthaginian) 70, 101
camp (Egyptian) 64-67, 111-16,
122
camp (Israelite) 15-16, 29, 32-34,
49
camp (Libyan) 65
camp (orientation) 71, 73, 113
camp (oval/elliptical) 48-49, 68
camp (Persian) 40, 71-72
camp (Roman) 73-74
camp (sanitation) 77
Capernaum 104
catafalque 107-108, 166, 178
Charlemagne 61
cherubiim 113, 173-76
Chronicler 136, 176
Clifford, Richard J. 97-98
coins (Phoenician) 102-103
cords 15
covered wagon 104
Cross, Frank M., Jr., 3, 4, 12, 21,
42, 67, 90, 92, 94, 96-97, 10001, 133, 133-35, 155, 177
Cyrus the Great 71-72
Dan 33
Darius 82
David 1, 4, 63, 76-78, 85, 135-36
Deborah 1
Deipnosophistae 72-73
Dever, William G. 50-52
Diodorus of Sicily 70, 76, 101

226

SUBJECT INDEX

dugong 155
Dura Europos synagogue 104
E (author) 32
Ebenezer
Edom(ites) 30, 41, 50, 56, 59
El 25, 94-100, 110, 118, 129,
147, 152, 190-91
Eli 84, 134
Eliphaz the Temanite 37
Ennead 111, 190
Ephraim 33
Esau 120
Ezekiel 50-51, 83, 120, 133, 14647
Fergusson, James 150, 165
four-room house 53-54
Freedman, David Noel xxv, 12, 31,
43, 52, 56, 100
Friedman, Richard E. xxv, 13, 35,
96, 123, 127, 133, 135-36,
141, 148-49, 157, 167-77
Fritz, Volkmar 52
Gad 33
Genghis Khan 61
Gibeah 190
Gibeon 136
Gilgal 136
Goliath 63, 76, 116
Graf, Karl 2
Gray, John 188
Gudea 131

Habiru 40,43,47
Haj 36,91
Halpern, Baruch xxv, 31, 51, 76,
86, 176, 188
Ham 29, 31, 82
Hammurapi 35
Haran, Menahem 135, 147
Hathor 118
Hatshepsut 64
Henry VIII 61
Herodotus 71-72
Hetepheres 111, 145, 148
Hezekiah 63, 68, 133
Hoffmeier, James K. 4, 64, 10506, 111, 113-14
Holofernes 76-77, 82-83

Homan, Michael M. 10, 41, 56,


77-78, 112, 121
Homer 62,70-71
Hophni 121, 135
Horemheb 65
Horus 111, 122, 190
Hurowitz, Victor (Avigdor) 17073, 76
Hurvitz, Avi 133
Id'al-'Adha 38
Iliad 70
Isaac 1, 29-30, 81
Isaiah 63
Ishbosheth 86
Isi em Kheb 106-07, 156
Ismaelites 30
Israelites 1,4-5,7, 10-11, 13, 1718, 26, 30-32, 34, 36-37, 4045, 50-53, 61-63, 66, 68, 7475, 77, 79, 83-84, 89, 94, 101,
114-116, 130 169, 187, 189
ivory 146-47
J (author) 32
Jabal Hamrat Fidan 55-59
Jacob 1, 29, 81
Jael 37, 76, 81-82
Japheth 29
Jebusite 51
Jeremiah 37, 75, 136
Jerome 2
Jerusalem 123
Job 37
Josephus 2, 144-45, 162, 178
Joshua 1
Judith 76-77, 83
Julius Caesar 61
Ka'ba 38,93-94
Karnak 65
Kenite 37
Kennedy, Archibald R. S. 140-45,
147
Kirta 70, 81, 99, 190
kiswa 93-94
Kitchen, Kenneth A. 4, 30, 44, 56,
111-12, 114
kites 48
Kothar 97, 99
Kozbi 84

SUBJECT INDEX
Leah 1, 29, 33, 81
Levy, Thomas E. xxv, 41, 49-50,
56-58
Livy 74
Lot 1,29
Lucian of Samosata 102
Luxor 66
mahmal 90-93
Maimonides 2
Malamat, Abraham 189-90
Manasseh 33, 133
Mardonius 72
Man 42, 116-17, 138, 145, 147
markab 90
Masada 74
Megiddo 64, 126
Mehu 11
Menorah 123, 130, 156, 166, 173
Merneptah 65
Merneptah stele 44
Merodach-Baladan 69
Midian(ites) 13, 18, 30-31, 84,
118-20
Min 109-10, 191
Moses 1, 34, 84-85, 98, 121-22,
131
Muhammad 61, 92-93
Nabataeans 41, 50, 54
Naphtali 33
Napoleon 61
Nathan 34, 86
Nebuchadnezzar 63, 176
Newton, Sir Isaac 2
Nineveh 68
Nippur 116
Noah 1, 29-30, 82
Nob 136
nomad(s) 1, 3, 5, 12, 14, 18, 2427, 30, 32, 35-43, 45, 47-52,
55-56, 58-59, 109-10, 134,
192
Nur-Adad 69
Ohel 120
Oholah 83, 120
Oholiab 120
Oholibah 83, 120
Oholibamah 120
Origen 2

227

P(riestly author) 2-3, 11, 84, 114,


123-24, 128, 132-38, 161
pall 106-07
Paran, Meir 133
paroket 127, 144, 156-58
Paul 74
Peasant Revolt model 51
Pepill 63
Pericles 71
Philip of Macedon 74
Philistines 17, 31, 49, 63, 76,
116, 136
Philo of Alexandria 2, 144, 162
Philo of Byblos 24, 99-101
Phinehas 13, 84, 121, 135
pillar of fire 115
Polybius 73
Propp, William H. C. xxv, 8, 21,
56, 98, 100, 115, 121
Ptolemy II 73
Pughat 69, 83
Qadesh-Barnea 3
Qedesh (battle of/site) 64-66, 11116, 129
Qreiqara (Jordan) 39
qubba 13, 84, 90, 92-93
Qumran 54-55
Rachel 1, 29, 33, 81, 86
Rameses II 65-66, 76, 111-16,
126, 129
Rameses III 65, 107
Rameses IV 108
Ramesseum 66
Rashi 2, 139, 164
Re 106, 111, 191
Rebekah 1, 30, 81
Rechabites 37
Rehoboam 187
Reuben 33
Rwala 39, 90
Safavids 40
Samuel 1
Sanchuniathon 99
Sarah 1, 29-30
Sargon II 69
Saul 76
Schick, Conrad 165

228

SUBJECT INDEX

sedentarization 24, 26, 38-39, 50,


52, 54, 134
Sennacherib 68
Seth 111, 190
Shakespeare 62
Shamshi Adad I 35
Shasu 43-44, 47, 65
Sheba 18, 187, 189
Shechem 126, 191
Shem 1,29
Shiloh 84
Shiloh 84, 134-36
ships (construction) 102, 145-46
Shishak 106
Simeon 33
Sinuhe 42, 64, 110
Sisera 37, 76, 81-82
Skylax 70
Smith, Robert H. 188
Solomon 1-2, 5, 15, 19, 21, 34,
79-80, 85, 123, 137, 167
Stager, Lawrence E. 52
stakes 15
Sukkot (festival) 10, 36, 38
Suleiman the Magnificent 61
Symbiosis model 52
Tabernacle 2-5, 8, 11-13, 15, 21,
25, 34, 62, 66, 70, 76, 84-85,
87, 123, 128-85
Tabernacle (30x10 cubit) 167
Tabernacle (bars) 148-51
Tabernacle (bases) 144
Tabernacle (boards) 129
Tabernacle (boards/frames)
13747, 178
Tabernacle (construction) 34, 13785
Tabernacle (corner pieces) 147-48,
178
Tabernacle (curtains inside) 166
Tabernacle (curtains of fine linen)
151-52, 181
Tabernacle (curtains of goat-hair)
153-54, 181
Tabernacle (fate) 21, 173-77
Tabernacle (fine linen) 130
Tabernacle (form) 137-84
Tabernacle (Friedman's) 167-73
Tabernacle (in the Temple) 173-77

Tabernacle (new reconstruction)


177-84
Tabernacle (parallels) 4, 89-128
Tabernacle (reconstructions) 15985
Tabernacle (rituals) 131
Tabernacle (screen/cover)
144,
158-59
Tabernacle (skins) 155-56
Tabernacle (sloped-roof) 165
Tabernacle (symbolism) 131, 152
Tabernacle (veil/canopy) 156-58
Tabernacle (wagons to carry) 14344
table of showbread 130, 173
Tadmor, Hayim 155
Tayinat 123, 125
Temple (Ezekiel's) 15, 23, 124,
126
Temple (Solomonic) 1-2, 5, 19,
34, 85, 123-25, 129-30, 137,
167, 173-77
tent (birth) 111
tent (celestial prototype) 34, 131
tent (David's) 20, 76
tent (fabric) 3, 23, 26, 54, 67, 71,
105, 107, 119
tent (frames) 94-96, 108, 116-18,
145
tent (leather) 71, 92, 106-07
tent (Min's) 109-10
tent (mosques) 36
tent (names) 120-23
tent (of meeting/of the appointed
time) 8, 11, 98
tent (pegs) 3, 37, 76
tent (Rameses IPs) 65-67, 111-16
tent (ropes) 3
tent (sex inside) 79-87
tent (shrines) 12, 25, 38, 84, 87
tent (symbolism) 9-10, 35-38, 77,
131-32, 152, 173, 188
tent (terminology) 7-27
tents (archaeology) 47-59
tents (Asherah's) 23, 123
tents (Canaanite) 69-70
tents (funeral) 105-109
tents (heads in) 37, 63, 76, 83,
116
tents (leather) 107, 155-56
tents (military) 61-78

SUBJECT INDEX
tents (nuptial) 79-82, 87
Tepe Gawra 104
Thompson, Thomas L. 42
Thutmose III 64, 114
Timna 118-20
Timurids 40
Tipi 67
Tiye 109, 129, 145
to your tents 187-92
Torah ark 104
Tutankhamen 107, 109, 126, 129,
145, 166, 178
Ugarit 138
unicorns 155
'utfah 90-93
Uriah 63, 77-78
Valentino, Rudolph 79, 83
Van Seters, John 42
Vespasian 61

Wahhabis 94
Wellhausen, Julius
123, 129
Wenamun 110

229

2-4, 89-90,

Xenophon 71-72
Xerxes 71
Yahweh 1, 8-12, 16, 20-24, 26,
34, 38, 77, 80, 84-85, 97-98,
110, 115-16, 122-23, 131-32,
134, 152, 156, 173
Yatpan 69, 83
yurt 25-26, 54
Zechariah 130
Zedekiah 63
Zerubbabel 120
Zilpah 29, 33-34

CULTURE AND HISTORY


OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
ISSN 1566-2055
1. Grootkerk, S.E. Ancient Sites in Galilee. A Toponymic Gazetteer. 2000.
ISBN 90 04 11535 8
2. Higginbotham, C.R. Egyptianization and Elite Emulation in Ramesside
Palestine. Governance and Accommodation on the Imperial Periphery. 2000. ISBN 90 04 11768 7
3. Yamada, S. The Construction of the Assyrian Empire. A Historical Study of
the Inscriptions of Shalmanesar III Relating to His Campaigns in the
West. 2000. ISBN 90 04 11772 5
4. Yener, K.A. The Domestication of Metals. The Rise of Complex Metal
Industries in Anatolia. 2000. ISBN 90 04 11864 0
5. Taracha, P. Ersetzen und Entsiihnen. Das mittelhethitische Ersatzritual
fur den GroBkonig Tuthalija (CTH *448.4) und verwandte Texte.
2000. ISBN 90 04 119108
6. Littauer, M.A. & Crouwel, J.H.and P. Raulwing (ed.) Selected Writings
on Chariots and other Early Vehicles, Riding and Harness. 2002.
ISBN 90 04 11799 7
7. Malamat, A. History of Biblical Israel. Major Problems and Minor
Issues. 2001. ISBN 90 04 12009 2
8. Snell, D.C. Flight and Freedom in the Ancient Near East. 2001.
ISBN 90 04 120106
9. Westbrook, R. & R. Jasnow (ed.) Security for Debt in Ancient near Eastern
Law. 2002. ISBN 90 04 12124 2
10. Holloway, S.W. Assur is King! Assur is King! Religion in the Exercise of
Power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire. 2002. ISBN 90 04 12328 8
11. Daviau, P.M.M. Excavations at Tall Jawa, Jordan. Volume 2: The Iron
Age Artefacts. 2002. ISBN 90 04 12363 6
12. Homan, M.M. To your Tents, 0 Israel! The terminology, function,
form, and symbolism of tents in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient
Near East. 2002. ISBN 90 04 12606 6

Plate la: Succoth Booth.

Plate Ib: Permanent Buildings with Tent Roof (Syria).

Plate 2a: Combination of Tent and House (Syria).

Plate 2b: Large Permanent Building with Tent Roof (Syria).

Plate 3a: Bedouin Camp Constructed of Tents, Sheet Metal, and Plastic (Wadi Kelt, Israel).

Plate 3b: Bedouin Tent (Wadi Rum, Jordan).

Plate 4a: Tents Erected for Haj Pilgrims.

Plate 4b: Tent-Mosque in Nazareth.

Plate 5: Aerial Photograph Showing the Jabal Hamrat Fidan (Outlined in White) with the Wadi
Fidan Survey Area (Outlined in Black).

Standard Grave Form of WFD 40

Plate 6: Standard Grave Form of WFD 40.

WFD40 Grave 92

Plate 7: Grave 92 Burial and Associated Artifacts.

Plate 8: Iron Age Sites Located in the WFD 1998 Survey.

Plate 9: Three Views of WFD 48 (Large Campsite with IA Diagnostic Pottery).

Plate 10: Rameses IFs Military Camp at Qedesh (Abu Simbel).

Plate lla: Ornate Tent-pole in Egyptian Tent.

Plate 11b: Relief of Four Sons of Rameses II Fighting at Zapur

Plate 12: Relief of Sennacherib's Fortified Camp.

Plate 13: Relief of Sennacherib's Camp.

Plate 14: Sennacherib's Royal Tent.

Plate 15: Sargon II's Fortified Camp.

Plate 16: Ashurbanipal's Camp.

Plate 17: Forked-frame Tent in Camp of Ashurbanipal.

Plate 18: Burning Arab Tents from Palace of Ashurbanipal.

Plate 19a: The Roman Camp According to Polybius.

Plate 19b: Roman Army Tent-camp Remains at Masada.

Plate 20: Elamite Heads Stored in Assyrian Tent.

Plate 2la: markab.

Plate 21b: 'utfah.

Plate 22: mahmal in Procession.

Plate 23: mahmal Returns to Cairo from Mecca.

Plate 24a: mahmal Drawing.

Plate 24b: mahmal Photograph.

Plate 25a: qubba Photograph (Palmyre).

Plate 25b: First Possible qubba.

Plate 26a: Second Possible qubba.

Plate 26b: Third Possible qubba.

Plate 27: Ka'ba.

Plate 28: Wheeled Shrine on Sidonian Coins (1st and 2nd Century C.E.).

Plate 29a: Shrine with Carrying Bars on Tyrian Coin


(251-253 C.E.).

Plate 29b: Statue of Demeter


Carried by Portable Shrine on
Megarian Coin (193-221 C.E.).

Plate 29c: Statue of Hercules


Carried by Portable Shrine on
Coin from Philadelphia (c.
170C.E.).

Plate 30: Wheeled Torah Ark from Capernaum.

Plate 31: Ark in Tented-wagon.

Plate 32a: Votive Wagon from Tepe Gawra with Drawing.

Plate 32b: The Frame of the Egyptian Tent of Purification.

Plate 33: Anubis Working in a Red Tent of Purification.

Plate 34: Leather Tent of Queen Isi Em Kheb.

Plate 35: Leather Egyptian Funeral Tent, Dyed Red, Yellow, and Green.

Plate 36: Tutankhamen's Pall inside Outer Catafalque.

Plate 37b: Tutankhamen's Pall Being Rolled and Removed.

Plate 37a: Tent Frame and Pall in Tomb of Tutankhamen.

Plate 38: Tutankhamen's Tent Frame inside Exterior Catafalque.

Plate 39a: Drawing of Catafalques Showing Position of Tent Frames.


Plate 39b: Plan on Papyrus of Rameses IV's Tomb Showing Possible
Tent and Floor Catafalques.

Plate 40a: Holy Barque of Amon with Catafalque.

Plate 40b: Tutankhamen's Catafalque Drawn by Court Officials.

Plate 4la: Wooden Planks


with Gold Overlay on
Shrine of Tiye.

Plate 41b: Wooden Planks as Found in Tomb of Tiye.

Plate 42: Tent of Min Being Constructed: Central Pole and Four Framing Poles.

Plate 43: Two Versions of Min's Tent.

Plate 44: Amarna Princesses in a Red Tent (c. 1345-1340 B.C.E.).

Plate 45: Mehu's Tent Frame over Bed.

Plate 46: Reproduction of Tent Frame, Bed, Headrest, Armchair, and Curtain Box of Queen
Hetepheres I (IVth Dynasty).

Plate 47: Rameses II's Military Camp at Qedesh (Luxor).

Plate 48: Rameses II's Military Camp at Qedesh (Ramesseum).

Plate 49: Close-up of Rameses II's Military Tent at Qedesh (Abu Simbel).

Plate 50b: Canopy at Tel Dan's Gate (Reconstructed).

Plate 50a: Sun God in Tent.

Plate 51a: Midianite Tent Shrine at Timna with massebot against Far Wall and Niche to
Right.

Plate 51b: Midianite Tent Pole-hole.

Plate 52: Temple (above) and Palace (below) at Tayinat.

Plate 53: Temple at Ain Dara.

Plate 54a: Temple at Arad.

Plate 54b: Holy of Holies at Arad.

Plate 55a: Egyptian Table for Dead Set with 12 Loaves of Bread (Slab Stela of Meretites,
IVth Dynasty, reign of Khufu [2585-2560 B.C.E.]).

Plate 55b: Egyptian Model of Granary and Butchery.

Plate 56a: Bronze Tenons Used to Join Boards on


Tiye's Catafalque.

Plate 56b: Examples of "Arms" in the Construction of the Tent Frame of Hetepheres.

Plate 57a: Painting of New Kingdom Barge.

Plate 57b: Model of Egyptian Boat from Tomb of Tutankhamen.

Plate 58a: Cheop's Barge.

Plate 58b: Phoenician Ship.

Plate 59: Metal Sockets and Joined Corner Pieces of Hetepheres' Tent Frame.

Plate 60: Model of Egyptian Weaving Shop (c. 2000

B.C.
.)

Plate 61: Engraving of the Tabernacle's Screen and Five Pillars (19th century).

Plate 62: Kennedy's Reconstruction of the Tabernacle.

Plate 63a: Sloped-roof Tabernacle with Ridgepole.

Plate 63b: Tabernacle with Curtains inside Boards.

Plate 64: Winged Deities from Arslan Tash Protecting Sun God.